It’s time to ring in the New Year with the only new offerings this week from Marvel: All New Miracleman Annual and the introduction of Phil Coulson’s team in SHIELD!
All New Miracleman Annual #1 (Marvel Comics)
There’s a lot of hype around All New Miracleman Annual #1. There’s a “long lost” script by legendary author Grant Morrison, interior pages by Marvel head honcho Joe Quesada, and all of the pedigree that comes with a comic book called Miracleman. Ever since Marvel got the publishing rights to the character that arguably made Alan Moore famous, the publisher has been putting out reprints of the classic “Marvelman” sorties of the 1950s, and only recently begun republishing the Alan Moore series (aka the ones people really wanted). Annual is the first “original” Miracleman book published by Marvel. So, is it worth the $5 cover price?
The main attraction here is the Grant Morrison and Joe Quesada story, which ends up being a measly eight pages. I’ll say it again: THE GRANT MORRISON AND JOE QUESADA STORY IS EIGHT PAGES LONG. Yes, the big selling point amounts to nothing more than a back up story, and one that’s not even all that great to be honest. It tells the untold story of Kid Miracleman murdering a priest before he begins his rampage through London. That’s it. The back up story by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred ends up being nearly double the size of the main story, and while it’s okay, it focuses a lot on the Marvelman family, a group of characters that no one has really clamored for, no matter how badly Marvel tries to generate interest in them.
The one positive behind Miracleman Annual is the art. Both Quesada and Allred really pulled out all of the stops, and surprisingly Quesada does a really excellent job. As someone who hasn’t felt that Joey Q has been great for the past 5 years, he really puts in some good work here. The same can be said for Mike Allred, whose throwback style suits the tone of Milligan’s story perfectly.
In the end, All New Miracleman Annual isn’t worth the money, and to be honest, Marvel should be ashamed for charging people $5 for what equates to a short story. Of course, you get a few “bonus” pages of behind the scenes artwork, but is that worth paying $5? Even the most hardcore Morrison devotee will have qualms shelling out five bucks for this. While I get that Marvel paid a lot of money for the Miracleman publishing rights and wants to see a return on the investment, this is atrocious. Hopefully their New Year’s Resolution is to stop screwing with their customer base.
SHIELD #1 (Marvel Comics)
Also coming from Marvel this week is SHIELD, the official introduction of Phil Coulson and his crack team of agents from TV’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series into the Marvel comic book universe. While I’ve been a casual fan of AOS, I have to say, this new Mark Waid and Carlos Pacheco series is off to a really cool start. It’s already way better than any episode of the series I’ve seen so far.
Much of this issue follows Phil Coulson’s first day on the job as a SHIELD Command Leader. When a Middle Eastern terrorist leader gains control of a mystical Asgardian sword, Coulson and his team head out to assist the heroes of the Marvel universe. After a quick battle with the terrorist, Coulson figures out that Heimdall, the gatekeeper of Asgard, has been possessed by a mystical artifact, and is the cause for the different mystical creatures and artifacts that have been popping up in highly populated areas. The crew are able to help Heimdall defeat his possession, but are left with more questions than answers.
Mark Waid does a pretty good job of inserting Phil Coulson, Agent May, and Fitz and Simmons in the other 616 Marvel Universe. It’s a little weird at first seeing a young Coulson documenting the different heroes and villains of the Marvel universe in the beginning, but it actually starts to make sense, since one of the selling points of Phil Coulson’s character is that he’s kind of a fan boy at heart. Waid has a strong sense of characterization for the multiple characters that he throws at us this issue, even though we could’ve used a little more Agent May. There’s also some weird continuity in here as well (Iron Man is in his “Superior” armor, but acting like the pre-inversion Tony Stark), but nothing that really ruins the reading experience.
On the art side of things, Carlos Pacheco does a really great job of depicting the characters’ likenesses in this issue. Phil Coulson looks like Clark Gregg, but not so much that it takes you out of the story. Pacheco also does a tremendous job depicting the huge battles with Asgardian monsters, which are the stand out moments of the book.
SHIELD was way better than I was expecting it to be, and actually serves as a really good intro to the Marvel Comic Universe for people who only know the movies and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. While I probably won’t rush to get the next issue, Mark Waid and Carlos Pacheco crafted a pretty fun one and done adventure that works Phil Coulson into the Marvel Universe in a much better way than when it was done a few years ago in Marvel’s Battle Scars miniseries. Fans of the character or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. should definitely give this a spin.