Or, â€œSteve Rogers? Whoâ€™s Steve Rogers?â€
Last year Matt did a review of Avengers Next issue #1-5, and other than that, I have not had much exposure to the MC2 Universe, but here is what I know: MC2â€™s Earth-982 has heroes and villains that are descendant from the Marvel Heroes we know and love. The whole concept started with What Ifâ€¦? #105 and the story of May Parker, the daughter of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson-Parker. In the standard 616 Marvel Universe, May was (supposedly) kidnapped as a child, never to be seen in continuity again. In the 982 Marvel Universe, heretofore referred to as MC2, May grew up to become Spider-Girl and along with the sons and daughters of various Marvel heroes and villains, continues to fight crime in the tradition of their parents. Between 1998 and 2007 there where 13 different MC2 titles published. Only one title, Amazing Spider-Girl, survived, that is until American Dream came along.
As I said, I had not actually read many MC2 comics; I only picked up the first issue of Wild Thing, so I had to do a little research on our red, white and blue protagonist. American Dream is, in reality, Shannon Carter, whoâ€™s parents where killed in a car wreck. She was injured, but raised by her Aunt Peggy Carter. Peggy worked in the Avengers Mansion for years, and had actually met Captain America, Thor and the rest, and she helps Shannon eventually get a job as a tour guide in the Avengers Mansion/Museum. I could not find any reference that her mother really was Sharon Carter, aka Agent 13, (correct me if I am wrong) and since Captain America was alive in MC2, he does not seem to be her father. She is an Olympic-level athlete and a martial-arts master who wields a Captain America shield (from another dimension) and has smaller shields on her gauntlets which she can fire offensively. She is also a blonde bombshell with a body that would make Matt Murdock take a second glance. It could be easy to write her off as a cheesecake Cap riff, but as we find in this first issue that would be a mistake.
The issue starts off with American Dream bursting in on a group of arms dealers that the police had been preparing to take out. Being an Avenger, she decides to take point for the police and ends up taking out all of the crooks by herself. These are some of the most enjoyable 4 pages I have read in a long time, as the writer and artist hit a comfortable stride that sustains itself for the whole issue.
And when I say the whole issue, I mean the whole issue. We see American Dream in action beside the authorities, dealing with her boyfriend, wondering about her own social status and lack thereof, at work as a civilian, getting drawn into a possible kidnapping ring, and finally coming full circle to deal with a weapon(?) from the first part of the book. Seem like a lot, doesnâ€™t it? Well, that doesnâ€™t include the appearance of a pair of enemies from the previous MC2 books who seem to be setting up some sort of â€œrevengeâ€ plot. There is a lot of action set up in this first of five issues, but the story reads well. It all flows together nicely and doesnâ€™t ever seem to be overloaded, but instead the story is using the time spent to set things up for the overall story arc. We see the beginnings of what could be some great character development and growth for American Dream, and the answers to some questions are hinted at.
Let me take a few moments to talk about the creators, and they fully deserve the term, which produced this book. Tom DeFalco is a classic writer and he has written this story in a classic style. American Dream #1 has a pacing and plot structure that many modern comics have left behind. You donâ€™t realize how different and effective it is until you have finished the book and realize exactly how much story has been set up. And THOUGHT BALLONS! I have so missed thought balloons! Yes, there is a genre of storytelling that works well without thought balloons and recently most books have run a sort of internal dialogue akin to classic film noir narration, but for this type of story, the thought balloons just work so well. The story and the book itself is a treat to read, and should be required reading for new and fledgling writers on how to kick off a first issue.
I was first exposed to Todd Nauckâ€™s work with Young Justice and his creator owned series Wildguard. It was impressive there, but there is something about it the art that seems to be above average, as if he has hit a stride. When I think of some of my favorite comics from the past, this is the style of art that I think of. Clean lines, clearly drawn characters, easily recognizable faces, great action, just a good classic style that enhances the story. Iâ€™m sure part of the credit goes to inker Scott Koblish; the inks are subtle enough to make the pencil work look that much better and not overwhelm the senses. Additionally, Rob Roâ€™s colors make this issue pop, something that seems to be lacking in many comics today.
I read a Tom DeFalco interview by Jennifer Contino recently, and she asked him about the feel of the MC2 books, which has been said by many to read like a modernized Silver Age. He replied to her, â€œWe are â€œold schoolâ€ because A) our heroes act like heroesâ€¦B) we donâ€™t believe in decompressionâ€¦C) we tell single issue stories with subplots that build from issue to issueâ€¦ and D) thereâ€™s a lot of action and angst in every issue.â€ I think that that is the best description of AMERICAN DREAM #1 that you can find. This is how comics used to be done, and it still works today.
I give this first issue 3.5 out of 5 stars. It is a solid start to what promises to be a great series. In this summer of giant company crossovers, it might get overlooked, but I would be willing to bet that it becomes a sleeper hit.