It’s Throwback Wednesday with a new book very much in the old style. Specifically, the old style of Marvel Comics, with iconic heroes and villains, classic characterisations, big action sequences and a lot of heart.
Slotted between the Silver Age Avengers #11 and #12, it sees Kang the Conqueror continue his vendetta against Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in pursuit of the most valuable prize of all!
Grain. OK, it isn’t the sexiest trophy, but an army marches in its stomach and all that. And Kang’s yearning for breakfast cereal does motivate a massively fun fight between the Avengers and a Hulk robot.
In that little Editor’s Note, we’re reminded that the same scheme was just foiled by the good guys, so why he’s trying it again I have no idea. Sure, a Hulk robot, powered by a genuine Jade Giant heart, is tougher that a Spider-Man robot, but it’s still just a robot. When the heroes take it on one at a time the Tick-Tock Titan triumphs, but together they easily best the foes no single superhero can withstand.
I don’t know if this five-issue mini-series will get more complicated than an old-style Avengers tale, or whether we’ll get subplots, foreshadowing, mysteries… I suspect the former. The fact this story is set in the long past, before Marvel’s sliding timeline kicked in, suggests that this is ‘just’ DC legend Paul Levitz – in his Marvel writing debut – having fun. I’m good with that, given Levitz, with a lot fewer words than Stan Lee, so skilfully captures the voices of Captain America, the Wasp, Ant-Man, Thor and Iron Man. Even the Hulk robot sounds scarily like the Green Goliath of 1965.
And the art! Britain’s own Alan Davis painstakingly recreates the New York of classic Marvel, replete with colourful bystanders – dig that kid with the propeller beanie – and a backdrop of detailed buildings. It’s a feast for the eyes, with unapologetically bright colours from Rachelle Rosenberg.
The style is undoubtedly Davis’s own – he’s inking as well as pencilling – but the vibe is pure Jack Kirby and Don Heck, who get a namecheck as inspirations on the delightfully Olde World splash page, along with that Lee fella. In the early Sixties Rosenberg’s forebears didnt get their deserved credit in the creators’ box; happily this book’s fine letterer, Cory Petit, is able to name our colourist.
Also authentic to my eyes is Davis and Rosenberg’s poster-worthy cover, with classic logo, corner box and, er, ‘Approved by the Time Variance Authority’ box.
I’m not sure what younger fans would make of this comic, with its sheer joy in clear cut good guys vs bad guys, its refusal to ramble, its clear powerful art, but I loved it. And you?