Fall is upon us but while Secret Wars and it’s many tie in’s sit in delay purgatory for the time being, Marvel is once again relaunching it’s superhero line with a whole bunch of #1 issues for their comics. With that said, the publisher is moving from a different position than they were in with Marvel Now & All New Marvel Now. With the former, Marvel had a lot of young creative talent that they were able to re-position during the relaunch to give their line a fresh make over and give creators they had brought up on their lower tier titles a higher profile like Jonathan Hickman, Jerome Opena, Esad Ribic, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Jason Aaron or Rick Remender. After Marvel Now was a success, they added several new talents into their fold by building off the success of the original relaunch, giving creators like Ales Kot, Tradd Moore, Michael Walsh, Felipe Smith or Michel Fiffe their first shot at a major comics launch with the publisher. Now, much of the talent from both those initiatives has moved on from the publisher. In their place, Marvel has new creators coming on from all sorts of different mediums in addition to some of their old standby’s like Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Waid or Greg Land, and they are publishing a lot of comics. Probably too many. Below is a list of all the announced new series categorized into grouping of Yay, Mayhaps or Nah like we did with Secret Wars. Keep in mind that I won’t be including series that are basically the same creative talent and that Marvel will surely have more books to announce in the months ahead.
Jim Starlin of The Infinity Gauntlet, Captain Marvel, Cosmic Odyssey, Batman & Thanos vs Hulk will return to the Warlock character on a four issue miniseries with artist Alan Davis of Captain Britain, Excalibur, X-Men & The Savage Hulk. Jeff Lemire of Descender, All-New Hawkeye & Bloodshot Reborn will be relaunching Moon Knight with the series former art team of Greg Smallwood & Jordie Bellaire. Novelist Chelsea Cain will return to the Mockingbird character that she recently wrote a one shot for in an ongoing series while Allred & Slott’s Silver Surfer will be returning in addition to Chris Sims & Chad Bowers X-Men ’92 with Starlord & Kitty Pryde artist Alti Firmansyah.
A couple weeks ago I finally got around to watching the Raiders Of The Lost Arc Steven Sodebergh cut ,which, depending on what corners of the internet you frequent, means you’re either thinking “old news” or are about to have your mind blown. Steven Sodebergh is the director of such fantastic films like Oceans 11, Sex,Lies & Videotape, Traffic, Out Of Sight & Magic Mike among many, many more and what he does is basically turn Raiders Of The Lost Arc into a silent film with some simple editing tweaks. He makes the film black and white and replaces all the audio with selections from Trent Reznor’s score’s from The Social Network & The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It is brilliant and highly enjoyable, but moreover Sodebergh has a point to make about staging. The director writes
I’m assuming the phrase “staging” came out of the theatre world, but it’s equally at home (and useful) in the movie world, since the term (roughly defined) refers to how all the various elements of a given scene or piece are aligned, arranged, and coordinated. In movies the role of editing adds something unique: the opportunity to extend and/or expand a visual (or narrative) idea to the limits of one’s imagination—a crazy idea that works today is tomorrow’s normal.
I value the ability to stage something well because when it’s done right, it’s pleasures are huge, and most people don’t do it well, which indicates it must not be easy to master…I operate under the theory that a movie should work with the sound off, and under that theory, staging becomes paramount…I’m just saying this is what I do when I try to learn about staging, and this filmmaker forgot more about staging by the time he made his first feature than I know to this day
Read the whole thing and watch the movie, it will all make sense. This got me thinking about staging in comics and wonder how well my favorite comics utilize the visual principle.
To explore Steven Sodebergh’s theory on the importance of staging with comics, I took my four favorite books from last week:
Moon Knight #11 by Brian Wood & Greg Smallwood
Rumble #2 by John Arcudi & James Harren
The Wicked + The Divine #7 by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie
The Valiant #2 by Matt Kind, Jeff Lemire & Paolo Rivera
I reread each book without reading the text and instead focusing on how the art tells the story, how it presents a visual narrative and how well it works without the use of words. I also listened the The Social Network soundtrack by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross for symmetry. My findings are below
by Brian Wood and Greg Smallwood
Marc Spector tries to reclaim his mantle from Elisa Warsame in Brian Wood’s last issue for the series.
After he escaped from a mobile prison inside an airplane, Spector pleads with Khunshu to retake him as his avatar on Earth. Khunshu agrees, saying that Doctor Warsame is not as strong as he predicted. She is holding General Lor hostage, demanding to know where a large cache of Akima’s national wealth is. Lor refuses, revealing that Warsame’s family are the true dictators of Akima. Spector makes his way back to NYC by offering a reporter the rights to the story if she fronts his travel expenses, while discussing with Khunshu that he will have to forge a new alias now that his current one is compromised. He stops Elisa by donning his Mr.Knight visage and ends the story by paying back the reporter who helped him.
Smallwood’s art is strong in this issue, always keeping the panel composition clear even if the panels are not in a rigid grid. The visuals of Spector and Elisa interacting with Khunshu is tense and dramatic, and the emotion of the characters is palpable. He has shown to be a great successor to Declan Shalvey’s previous run on art.
Overall I was a little disappointed with the conclusion of this arc. Mark Spector has been displaced by Khunshu before, and I was hoping this time it would have a more meaningful resolution. Khunshu left Spector for Warsame, then realized she was unfit as his Avatar anyway. It lacks drama if Spector didn’t have to actually fight Warsame for the mantle after she went to such lengths to take it from him. Also the revelation that Elisa Warsame was the actual villain and not General Lor felt like a Silver Age twist to justify the end.Wood’s script depicted some of the brutal and agonizing problems facing parts of Africa, the idea that one of the perpetrators could hide away and mount a public campaign against the actual people helping the situation just feels weak. It’s almost as if Marc Spector could’ve saved the day by doing nothing and letting Khunshu return to him after Warsame’s flaws became apparent. In spite of that, the issue contained enough action and arresting story-telling fans have come to expect from the series. As when Warren Ellis left, the next writer, Cullen Bunn, has big shoes to fill.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent
I was hesitant to comment on Moon Knight when it switched over from writer/artist Warren Ellis & Declan Shalvey to Brian Wood & Greg Smallwood. On the one hand Brian Wood is a fantastic writer with years worth of great comics in his back catalogue but the style Ellis and Shalvey did was so singular and excellent I wasn’t sure how Wood and Smallwood could follow that up. Well here’s my verdict; it’s not as good because nothing in comics right now is as good as the Ellis/Shalvey run but it keeps getting closer every issue as Wood & Smallwood continue to expand their styles to make Moon Knight consistently one of the five best comics on the shelf in spite of the shift in creative teams. To be truthful I actually think issue #8 was a little bit better as it used a genius concept of telling the entire story through different video screens but this month’s chapter is a worthy follow up as it explores globalization and white privilege while resetting the stakes again in a way that brings the comic closer to Ales Kot’s Zero as each of Wood & Smallwood’s issue’s on the title has been a game changer as opposed to the earlier day in the life style of the preceding creative team. Perhaps what’s most interesting about this month’s installment is the way that Wood is managing to merge his own sensibilities and very real world political themes to Moon Knights dark magical realism aesthetic in a way that feels seamless. It’s like issue #4 in the way that it’s told in another characters head space but it differs in being very much about third world poverty and the shade of grey in morality that is dependent on your perspective. As an artist Smallwood may have had his strongest showing yet as he manages to navigate the shifting perspectives with some epic scenery while still doing fantastic character work that really brings home the stakes of the plot. This isn’t the Ellis/Shalvey Moon Knight but that spirit lives on as Wood & Smallwood continue to make their imprint on the title while owning the series concept and conceit. It’s still the Moon Knight that we all fell in love with in the early winter of 2014 but this is a different perspective and as issue #9 shows; sometimes that’s a necessity to move forward.