American Son #1

Posted by on July 27th, 2010 at 12:01 AM

© 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc.

Marvel; Brian Reed, writer, Phillipe Briones, artist, Jeremy Cox, colorist; Cover by Marco Djurdjevic; 40 pp., $3.99

Nice work on the cover. Good composition and colorwork (surprising how Spider-Man’s color scheme goes with that of the U.S.). To get Spider-Man and America and Harry Osborn’s feelings about his dad all into one cover, and make it work, is probably harder than you’d think.

The cover is evocative, meaning it makes you feel like you’re feeling something. America is one of those items that can be lobbed into a sentence or a painting to give it weight, an indefinable sense that big things are being grappled with. Having people stare down and away, in one direction or the other, can have the same effect. “Son” contributes its share too: Bible stories, primal matters, father and son. Add them all up, with the right colors and a good touch with the faces, and you have a sense of sober foreboding, a feeling that matters of weight and tragedy are poised to get underway. But the events, on arrival, turn out to be all about how someone is using a superhero costume without permission and how he is Harry Osborn’s long-lost half-brother, son of Norman Osborn and the (I think) clone Gwen Stacy.

Harry Osborn is running the Coffee Bean these days. You can see from his stance with the broom that he’s action-oriented. A second story in the same issue has him actually get violent with the thing, flail it at a pushy creditor and then at Spider-Man. But even when he’s just talking, he goes in for a dynamic posture. Superhero artists fall into these crackling poses for people doing the ordinary. The artists get boxed in, since everyone they draw has the V-form (shoulders, then tapering down to the waist) and the defined muscles, not to mention pretty much the same height (a tight range with a few outliers). If you’re a superhero artist, that’s the sort of person you’ll draw, regardless of costume. So why change the poses?

©2010 Marvel Characters, Inc.

Black kid. Because he’s a good guy, Harry tells a black kid who hangs out at the Coffee Bean that he’ll reward him (give him a camping trip) if the kid does well in school. But the Coffee Bean is a college hangout; the kid’s an adult. The cliche smells worse than usual when the wrong age is used.

Pin-up watch. There’s a pair of facing pages built around an unremarkable moment. A girl reporter goes to snoop out what Harry’s up to at the Coffee Bean, and Harry gives her a coffee on the house. In doing so, he looks a bit ill. He rubs his forehead and says, “Oh, man . . .” This moment is played as if it were giant. But it just winds up that way. Harry’s big rub-forehead panel is there to balance the girl reporter’s big look-at-me panel (blond Asian chick, short skirt), and either panel is there just because original art sells for more when it’s centered around a showcase display of a character. The artist here does a pair of showcases (hot chick, cast regular) and tucks the dramatic action, the back-and-forth of what the characters do and what they say to each other, into tiny panels shoved to the top and bottom of the two pages. Out of the few moments available, better Harry’s illness plant should get the attention. But not that much attention.

©2010 Marvel Characters, Inc.

©2010 Marvel Characters, Inc.

Daily proverb. To know is very nice, but to believe is even better!

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