Friday, March 20, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: MARVEL COMICS #1000


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITERS: Al Ewing and various
PENCILS: Various
INKS: Various
COLORS: Various
LETTERS: Various
EDITOR: Tom Brevoort
EiC: Akira Yoshida a.k.a. C.B. Cebulski
COVER: Alex Ross
96pp, Color, $9.99 U.S. (October 2019)

Rated T

Marvel Comics #1 (with a cover date of October 1939) was first published on Aug. 31, 1939.  It was the first comic book published by the company known as Timely Comics, a division of Timely Publications and a precursor of Marvel Comics.  Marvel Comics would eventually take on the title, Marvel Mystery Comics.

Using the publication date of Marvel Comics #1, Marvel Comics has been celebrating its 80th anniversary throughout 2019.  The biggest event of that celebration is a special comic book, Marvel Comics #1000.  This massive collaborative effort features 80 different creative teams and showcases classic Marvel Comics characters and some brand new ones.

Each page of Marvel Comics #1000 is a single-page vignette that is the contribution of one of the 80 creative teams.  The creative teams are a mixture of Marvel Comics luminaries (Roy Thomas, Chris Claremont, Alex Ross, to name a few), recent Marvel star creators (Jason Aaron, Joe Quesada), some rising Marvel creators (David F. Walker, Saladin Ahmed), some celebrities (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Neil Gaiman), and some inexplicable choices (J. Scott Campbell?!)

The guiding hand behind the story in this issue is Al Ewing, writer of the critically-acclaimed Hulk comic book series, Immortal Hulk.  The very first panel of Marvel Comics #1000 is based on a panel from Marvel Comics #1, and it is the beginning of this comic book's first one-pager, which is entitled “Eight Bells.”  It is written by Ewing; drawn by Steve Epting; colored by Frank D'Armata; and lettered by VC's Clayton Cowles.  And while many of the one-pagers in Marvel Comics #1000 are about pivotal moments in Marvel Comics' past, the first one-page hints at an ancient conspiracy that runs through the history of the Marvel Universe.

“Eight Bells” recounts the introduction of the original Human Torch, an android by Professor Horton.  From there, Ewing unveils a mystery in the Marvel Universe, one centered around an enigmatic artifact known as the “Eternity Mask.”  Secret threads, secret connections, secret histories, and synchronicity, what is the mystery behind the Eternity Mask, an item that can take down both the powerful and weak  Who will wear the mask now?

In the Diamond Previews online write-up for Marvel Comics #1000, Marvel declares it features “The Greatest Talent Ever Assembled for One Story.”  Another line reads “...we have gathered together the greatest array of talent ever to be assembled between the covers of a single comic book!”  Marvel has also described the creative line-ups for this Marvel Comics #1000 as “some Marvel icons, some first-timers” and “80 luminary creative teams.”

I understand hype, but I also believe that whoever wrote this does not quite understand the actual meaning of the world “luminary.”  As for “the greatest talent ever assembled,” that is eye-rolling hype.  Most of the contributors to Marvel Comics #1000 are solid professions, but for the most part have not produced enough work or any work that would justify them being called “great talents” and certainly not luminary.  Also, the comic books that most of these new icons and “new luminaries” produce have contributed to the continued plummeting sales of comic books.  Neil Gaiman is obviously a luminary, and after a few puffs of burning bush, I might grudgingly call Jason Aaron a luminary.  But Matthew Rosenberg? – bitch, puh-lease.

For the record, here is a list of artists and writer-artists that have contributed substantially to Marvel Comics, but do not contribute to Marvel Comics #1000:  Art Adams, John Byrne, Sal Buscema, Paul Gulacy, Frank Miller, Andy Kubert, Bob Layton, Jim Lee, Joe Madureira, Todd McFarlane, Bob McLeod, Jon J. Muth, John Romita, John Romita, Jr., Bill Sienkiewicz, Paul Smith, Jim Starlin, Kent Williams, Ron Wilson, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Mike Zeck

Here are the writers who have contributed greatly to Marvel and are not in Marvel Comics #1000:  Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Joe Casey, J.M. DeMatteis, Matt Fraction, Steven Grant, David Michelinie, Mark Millar, Doug Moench, Grant Morrison, Ann Nocenti, Louise Simonson, and Marv Wolfman.

I can understand that there are a number of reasons why none of the above appear in Marvel Comics #1000.  Some may have declined, and others may have chosen not to because they are retired or are in poor health.  Others may have exclusive contracts with other publishers that prohibit them from committing any work for Marvel.  Some may have had scheduling issues, but I think many simply were not asked to contribute.

A Marvel Comics 80th anniversary book without John Byrne and Frank Miller is just fucking stupid.  I don't care what it took – even if someone had to get on his or her knees or drop trousers to convince them, Byrne and Miller had to be in this comic book.   It is because of the work that Byrne and Miller produced for Marvel Comics from the 1970s to the mid-1980s that Marvel had a late 1980s.

And they couldn't get a Jack Kirby pin-up in this bitch?  The comic books that Bendis, Brubaker, and Millar produced in the 2000s contributed greatly to the history-making and astounding amounts of money Marvel Entertainment's owners are now making from film adaptations of Marvel Comics' stories and characters.  Bendis should have written the Miles Morales one-pager; because he didn't, I didn't even bother reading it.

There are some nice moments and pages in Marvel Comics #1000.  I thought the Joe Quesada-Kevin Nowlan Daredevil page was beautiful.  Other pages I liked:  Roy Thomas and Rod Reis's Wolverine page; Jim Zub and Nick Bradshaw's Blade page; and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Jessica Jones page, to name a few.

The good stuff in Marvel Comics #1000 is tainted by the absence of so many true Marvel Comics luminaries and icons.  Donny Cates is not a Marvel icon, nor is Gerry Duggan.  Sorry; not now, but maybe later – much later.  The powers-that-be at Marvel Comics should be honest.  Marvel Comics #1000 is not so much an anniversary celebration as their childish need to have a Marvel title reach a thousandth issue because DC Comics recently had two – Action Comics #1000 and Detective Comics #1000.  And Marvel was going to have their 1000 even if they had to fudge the numbers.

5 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2019 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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