Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Agents of Atlas #1 Advance Review

Agents of Atlas #1
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artists: Leonard Kirk

Review Content: Agents of Atlas has to be Marvel's most advertised new title this year! The mischievious editor Mark Paniccia and the inventive writer Jeff Parker have created the perfect hype machine for the title, making the wait for the first issue equally (or more) fun than the actual product!

They have created an interactive adventure game/scavenger hunt online at marvel.com, through the mysterious 'Mr. Lao'. Mr Lao is the head of the Atlas Foundation, the clandestine operation that opposes SHIELD in the comic series. Through his 'Temple of Atlas' blog, he sends prospective Agents of Atlas on scavenger missions around various comics news sites through clues hidden in (very enjoyable) prose stories starring the team from the book. As an avid adventure gamer in my 'youth', this game has become an addiction for me, being meticulously planned and executed with the cooperation with a variety of internet sites. The new mission should be going online tonight, with the first clue being hidden in a line Agent Jimmy Woo says in this first issue.

Agents of Atlas is the comic book revival of Marvel's 'Atlas/Timely' characters, the superhero/horror line created before Marvel was called Marvel. These characters were first revived in the 'classic' What If #9: What If the Avengers fought evil in the 50s, revealing an alternate reality where a team of Avengers was formed in 1958, starring Agent Jimmy Woo, Marvel Boy, the Human Robot, Man-Ape, Venus and 3D-Man. That reality was erased from existence during Avengers Forever, but the team still existed in regular Marvel continuity, under a different name.

The first issue is meant as a primer to who these characters are with the sweet but shortpulp 50s adventure that still captures the pulp charm of that era with a cynic wink to the reader even as Venus incapacitates their opposition by flashing them with an ethereal mirage of herself. The story then jumps forward into the present where Man-Ape (now a SHIELD Howling Commando) is reunited with his teammates to extract Jimmy Woo's comatose body!

Leonard Kirk has reinvented himself to take over the art chores of this series. I am a huge fan of his work, going far back to UltraGirl, Supergirl, JSA, H.E.R.O. and recently Freshmen! He has constantly evolved from project to project, developing a more crisp linework and more detailed faces, but for AoA he approaches the characters with a looser style, reminiscent of early Stuart Immonen, evoking a nostalgic pulp adventure look, more fitting the espionage storeis within. This is the most eagerly anticipated book of the year and it doesn't let down! i'm hoping the book finds the niche audience it deserves and translates into an ongoing series featuring these classic characters!

Grade: B

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