Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chronic Review: Marvel Girl # 1!

Marvel Girl # 1 (one-shot)
Marvel Comics
Script:    Josh Fialkov
Pencils:  Nuno Plati
22 pages for $2.99

The new Marvel Girl one-shot is a kind of origin story embellishment set in the X-Men: First Class end of the universe.  The capsule situation is this:  Jean is frazzled.  The boys at Xavier's are fighting over her or clinging to her, and she lets loose with her powers in a dangerous little fit of exasperation.  Xavier scolds her a bit before sending her packing from the school until she gets her act together again.

Back home, mom and dad are a welcome sight until they get over-emotional about the whole deal and Jean runs off to the mall to decompress again.  Once there she discovers that everything is just like she left fact, far too much like she left it.  Everyone she used to hang out with at the mall is still there, doing the same things, stagnant and arrested in development.  The source of this weirdness appears to be the ghost of Jean's best friend Annie.

Fialkov's wheelhouse appears to be psychological drama and subtle weirdness, and this book has both elements.  Unlike his stellar work on Echoes, however, Marvel Girl falls incredibly flat.

The moral of the story is about moving on and growing out of the past, and losing a close friend for any reason is a powerful catalyst.  Perhaps it's because Fialkov is constrained by his X-Men: First Class audience, or perhaps it's because he's constrained by getting the whole story told in 22 pages, but this particular tale feels like a geared down shortcut to a much better story.

Given more space to breathe, I think the full ramifications of Annie's "curse" would have made more sense and felt more threatening.  And if we had more time to actually care about Annie and Jean's relationship, the loss would feel more profound.  As it stands, Marvel Girl # 1 reads like an X-Files after school special.

The art by Nuno Plati seems to be very anime inspired, which will often chafe me. In this case I found it mostly tolerable, although the characters look awfully thin.  The ghosts of the past are represented in bright pink hues, which worked for me, and might not work for everybody.  I'm thinking that the book is aimed at a younger audience steeped in modern animation, and I'm guessing that group will feel right at home here.  The cover by Roger Cruz is absolutely gorgeous.

Ultimately, there isn't enough emotional punch or character insight between these covers to justify it for me, but I think I might be demanding the book be more sophisticated than it intends to be.  I would have like to have seen what Fialkov could have done here with 4-6 issues while shooting for a more adult audience.  But that's just me wishing it could be something it's not, which is probably unfair. 

- Ryan

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