She fought the Invaders in WWII, but doesn’t look a day older now.  What is the secret of Lady Lotus?  Your Major Spoilers review of The Marvels #6 from Marvel Comics awaits!

THE MARVELS #6

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Yildiray Cinar
Colorist: Guru-eFX
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: December 1, 2021

Previously in The Marvels:  Who is Lady Lotus?  Crime lord, super villain, saboteur… but that’s just scratching the surface.  Learn what makes her tick, her loves, her hates, her fears, and learn the startling secrets behind the Siancong War.  A tour through a century of Marvel history, involving the Invaders, the Avengers, mayhem, monsters, and the deepest mystery of all!

ANYONE.  ANYWHERE.  ANY TIME.

Throughout the first five issues of this series, the problems in the province of Siancong have driven the narrative, but one thing has been unclear: What is Lady Lotus’ endgame?  This issue opens with the woman called Lotus (who pointedly thinks that it’s not her real name at all) awakening from a nightmare involving The Avengers.  She begins to ruminate about her past, revealing her origins in Japan and leading up to her first appearance, in which she clashed with The Invaders.  It also gives her a clearer motive in the Japanese internment camps of the era, tying that together with the Vietnam-era adventures wherein she allied with the future Swordsman, gangsters, and revolutionaries to try and take the country for herself.  It also untangles some of the timeline issues of the sliding Marvel Universe chronology, including her clash with Wonder Man and the Beast, and the battle with The Avengers that couldn’t actually take place during the Vietnam War.

IN-DEPTH VILLAIN MOMENTS

When I heard about this series, my first thought was that it felt like Astro City in the Marvel U, and it’s a testament to these creators that it’s worked as well as it has.  This issue’s deep dive on Lady Lotus/Lotus Newmark is Busiek at his best, but rather than building whole-cloth stories, he’s tying together nearly 40 years of existing continuity in a way that honors those stories, but makes more sense.  The problematic elements of her Dragon Lady archetype are addressed and even played with, and Cinar provides art that is as skilled and as flexible as the script.  A sequence of the Avengers and Captain Marvel (the Mar-Vell version) in action is nearly perfect, from the layouts to the costume details to the roster of the era, while the facial expressions are incredible.  There’s a great attention to detail in the backgrounds as well, from ’40s San Francisco to Southeast Asian jungles to a hidden underground bunker.

BOTTOM LINE: LOVELY WORK

The downside of this issue comes in its placement in the story, and it would be easy to feel like taking this moment to explain the villain could slow the story down, but The Marvels #6 does a very good job of minimizing that problem, providing some truly dynamic art and inventive story (with the trademark Busiek characterization) into a better-than-average 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  With the patchwork team of heroes and hangers-on assembled, I’m looking forward more than ever to see what happens when they meet this newly revitalized villain head-on next time ’round.


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THE MARVELS #6

67%
67%
Awesome

This issue somehow both feels interesting and brings the ongoing story to a halt, making for one of Busiek's trademark deep dives into the supervillain psyche. It's worth it to see the expert continuity-knitting in action.

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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