This two issue series is a showcase of young, new artists that C.B. Cebulski has encountered in his travels around the world, scouting talent for Marvel. Each issue provides six short stories, partnering these artists with some of Marvel’s most established writers.
This first issue has a pretty good showing. The preview pages give two or three pages from each story, showing what these artists can do.
In “Street Love” [**1/2], Damion Hendricks is paired with Marc Guggenheim for a fairly forgettable Spider-Man story where a giant enhanced human from a parallel dimension is wrecking New York, leading to a big team-up and Spider-Man musing on how, when the story is reported, the glory will go to the Fantastic Four and Avengers, leaving him out despite the lives he’s saved. Hendricks draws the quick, fluid movements of Spider-Man very well. His style is clean and he uses a lot of dynamic perspectives in his panels. In some places, his art lacks details, giving an incomplete look, but he handles the cameos by other Marvel heroes well and does a great job on Spidey.
“Let it Out” [**] by Chris Yost and Paul Davidson tells a ‘lost’ X-Men story that takes place after the death of Jean Grey as Havok, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus pick a fight with Cyclops in the middle of the desert to get him to let his emotions out. It’s a little hokey and tries for a slight swerve by not being totally upfront about the purpose of the story despite it being obvious. Davidson’s art is a little rough, heavy on shadows with a softer line, but his characters are exaggerated in places without a strong stylistic direction. Instead of his art looking unique or quirky, because the changes aren’t consistent enough, it seems like he’s a little too loose and needs to tighten his pencils. The action is energetic, though, and those exaggerated cartoony elements work there, emphasizing specific movements, but their carry-over into other parts of the story doesn’t work.
“Icarus’s Wings” [**] by Stuart Moore and Joe Suitor is an Iron Man story where Tony Stark films a will in the aftermath of “Armor Wars” discussing his plans for his technology. There’s nothing wrong with the writing except that, tomorrow, I won’t remember ever having read this story. Suitor has a very anime-influenced art style, coloring his work with that washed out animated look. When it comes to the Iron Man armors and action shots, his work is very polished and dynamic, popping off the page. His Tony Stark is too stylized in that Asian look, to the point where he doesn’t look like Tony Stark anymore.
“Like Sleeping Devils” [***] is a Bullseye story by Mike Benson and Michele Bertilorenzi that tells of his escape from the hospital after being temporarily paralyzed. Benson doesn’t do anything with the character that deviates from what that plot suggests, but Michele Bertilorenzi’s art suits the subject matter well and looks like the sort of art you would see in a Marvel book. It’s a little generic, fitting that style somewhat, but it’s polished and shows that Bertilorenzi definitely has a future with the company.
Kathryn Immonen and Serena Ficca’s “It’s Not Lupus!” [***1/2] focuses on the interplay of the Runaways and how they get on one another’s nerves -- in dangerous ways sometimes. Ficca’s cartoony, blocky art meshes with the quirky writing of Immonen very well. The facial expressions and storytelling are strong, which is a must since this a low key story with few overt displays of superpowers or action of any kind. However, when those displays of powers occur, Ficca’s art stumbles somewhat, not quite comfortable with something more than characters talking or acting like regular people.
The anthology concludes with “Modern Love” [***1/2], a ‘lost’ New Avengers story by Brian Michael Bendis and Christian Nauck, and tells the untold story of a romantic relationship between Iron Fist and Spider-Woman. Bendis writes the situation strongly, with a lot of humor and charm, but trying to fit it into what we know of the characters is a little difficult. Nauck’s angular art doesn’t seem, on the surface, like it’s suited to Bendis’s writing, but he handles it quite nicely. In the montage of the relationship progressing, Nauck is able to communicate that progression through very direct and simple images.
“Breaking into Comics the Marvel Way” #1 offers a look at six artists that may be drawing your favorite books in the coming years and while not all of them look ready for that just yet, all show potential.