Monday, September 11, 2017

MARVEL FANFARE #12

”THE WEB TIGHTENS!”
Scripter: Ralph Macchio | Penciler/Co-Plotter: George Pérez | Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Jim Novak | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Editor: Al Milgrom
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Black Widow defeats all of the assassins except Iron Maiden, who escapes when S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jimmy Woo bursts into the store. But Widow placed a tracking device on Iron Maiden, allowing her and Woo to follow the armored woman into the sewers. There, Black Widow and Woo defeat Iron Maiden, but both are quickly subdued by yet another assassin — the deadly Snap Dragon.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Kono the Sumo Warrior, one of the assassins, is shot… in the face. By an automatic pistol. Mark Gruenwald would later use him as a villain in the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA with no explanation as to how he survived being shot… in the face. With an automatic pistol. The kicker: this story’s writer, Ralph Macchio, was editor on those CAP issues!

(There will be more of this next issue, which I’ll cover when we get there.)


Iron Maiden reveals her real name, Melina Vostokoff, as well as her jealousy for Black Widow about being constantly overshadowed as a Soviet operative by the Widow’s achievements.


Iron Maiden is also seemingly killed here, and also eventually brought back by Mark Gruenwald in CAPTAIN AMERICA without explanation, still under the editorship of Ralph Macchio, though her death scene is much more ambiguous than Kono’s.


Jimmy Woo, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Hong Kong operative, is a character who predates the Marvel Universe — he debuted in the pages of the 1950s YELLOW CLAW comic as a secret agent on a never-ending quest to bring the title character to justice. Jim Steranko brought him into the modern Marvel Universe as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. during his run on that series.


(Woo comes across kind of arrogant in this story, though the Widow eventually wins him over with her strategy for defeating Iron Maiden.)

My Thoughts: This issue is basically wall-to-wall action: Widow fights the assassins, Widow meets Woo, Widow and Woo fight Iron Maiden, Widow and Woo fight unseen assailant. I guess this is what we get when Macchio and Pérez aren’t padding their stories out with unnecessary flashbacks.

(Okay, that’s a little snarky of me. The flashbacks last issue were necessary, but, while I approved of them breaking up the nonstop action, they didn’t technically need to be flashbacks.)

Honestly, I have very little to say about this issue. Widow taking out all the assassins in the opening pages is fun and doesn’t feel like a stretch, as she essentially uses them against each other, taking advantage of their lack of teamwork to finish them off. The fight with Iron Maiden is less satisfying, however, as she simply has Woo blast the ground out from under the lady — though that may be the point. The earlier battle shows Iron Maiden as possibly the Widow’s superior, so she needs to fight dirty — with Woo’s help — in order to win.

So with that, I’ll toss out one last note: I can’t recall if I mentioned this when I covered his run on TEEN TITANS or not, but in general I find that George Pérez is not a great costume designer. A fantastic artist, absolutely -- but his costumes almost always look way too busy and gaudy for me, and Snap Dragon (not sure why Macchio spells it as two words) is practically a perfect example. Now, Pérez may not have chosen the colors — that could be all Bob Sharen — but even if we ignore the hideous pink and gold combo, that outfit is ridiculous. Her top looks to be chain mail, she wears it with a black bikini bottom, armored arms, random drapery everywhere, and those bizarre antennae on her mask just look silly. All together… bleah.

Semi-Nude Score: Surprisingly, our heroine remains clothed through the entire story, keeping the score at 4.

6 comments:

  1. And to think, I thought Jericho was the worst costume design George Perez ever managed.

    Character design is an artform, but man, it's weird that someone as good as Perez is isn't good at it.

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    1. Yeah, I've never quite understood it either. And don't get me wrong, he has designed some winners. I like Starfire, Raven, and Cyborg, for example. But Jericho, as you note, looks awful. I like Deathstroke in theory, but I think the details the costume are a bit much in some places. I've always thought the original Nightwing costume was too busy and ugly-looking. And don't get me started on Jack of Hearts!

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  2. Perez designed Jack of Hearts?

    Suddenly things make a lot more sense now.

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    1. Yeah, Wikipedia lists his creators as Bill Mantlo (writer) and Keith Giffen (artist), but a number of other sources state that Pérez designed the character, originally for use in DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU, and Giffen simply happened to draw his first appearance after he wasn't used as originally intended.

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  3. Nightwing's busy design was on purpose, as a subconscious hint that Brother Blood was still in control of him (the similar design).

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    1. Wow, thanks! I had no idea. Is that addressed in the ongoing NEW TEEN TITANS series, or was it just something Wolfman and/or Pérez said outside of the context of the book?

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