Friday, March 19, 2010 - 23:19
MARVEL BOY: THE URANIAN #3
: Jeff Parker
Art & Letters
: Felix Ruiz
: Val Staples
: Marko Djurdjevic
*WARNING CONTAINS SPOILERS*
: This review covers only the first story in this issue. Three other classic Marvel Boy stories – “The Deadly Decision” (from Astonishing #5, August 1951) and “The Phantom Pen” and “Unseen Terror!” (from Astonishing #6, October 1951) – are reprinted in this issue.
REVIEW (SPOILERS AHEAD!)
This issue begins in 1957 with a quick prologue sequence at Timely Comics with Dean and an assistant working on the new issue of the Marvel Boy comic book, touting its recent success and tossing around the idea of adding a sidekick. Just then, a mysterious man shows up and says he needs to talk to them.
Cut to a university campus, where the recently-dismissed Professor Lawson is assaulting other faculty and students with his devolving ray, changing people back into cavemen and other ancient life forms. Marvel Boy arrives and begins to make quick work of the Neanderthals when Lawson commands his woolly mammoth to trample him. Marvel Boy manages to bounce hard light from his wristbands off of the windows of the adjacent buildings to knock out Lawson. Marvel Boy quickly reverses the effects of the ray and restores the victims to normal, to the critical acclaim of some female students. One quickly recognizes him – Violet (Vi for short), whom he hasn’t seen for over a year (see events from the previous issue; or better yet, read my review
of it)! To make up for their abbreviated date in 1956, Grayson takes Vi in his rocket ship for a quick spin around the globe, ending up in Japan for a romantic dinner for two.
Meanwhile, his actions are observed by the Uranian High Council, who continue to bide their time and commiserate over the fact that Grayson has not questioned them further about not leaving Uranus, and that he should enjoy the next year he has on Earth, as things will change very quickly upon their return.
Sometime later in the South Pacific, an island is being ravaged by a large monster called Orlaa. Marvel Boy responds and attacks the creature, only to discover it is a machine with men inside. Caught off guard, Marvel Boy is subdued and captured by a joint team of Navy and FBI personnel. Grayson is transported to a cell in Washington D.C. on New Year’s Day, 1958, bereft of his wristbands and headband. Approached by FBI Agent Lupek (who was present at the interrogation of the Communist spy last issue), Grayson is informed that the agent shut down production of his comic book at Timely. Grayson begins to read Lupek’s mind, and discovers that Lupek wants him to work for the FBI as a spy, reading the minds of foreign diplomats and other enemies, and plans to use Vi’s safety to get Grayson to cooperate. The discussion quickly turns argumentative, and Lupek draws his gun on Grayson and is about to fire when he is quickly knocked out by a kick to the head from – FBI Agent Jimmy Woo! Woo apologizes to Grayson for the treatment he received and returns Grayson’s bands. Grayson explained that he knew from reading his mind that Lupek was working on his own without Bureau knowledge. Woo then recruits him for a special team with an important mission…
Two months later, Grayson is corresponding with the Uranian High Council, who are growing concerned with his continuing adventures with Woo and his team, as it is doing nothing to further to advance the Uranians’ cause on Earth. Grayson sees it differently, and also is growing suspicious of the Uranians’ true motives for returning to Earth. As the transmission ends, the Council members lament their actions related to Grayson (including the death of his father), but also discuss their plans to replace him with their “reliable” Grayson duplicate.
As Grayson narrates a good-bye letter to Vi, he takes his rocket and visits his childhood home in Germany. He is able to pick up remnant trace memories from the environment, and as he visits his mother’s gravesite underneath her favorite tree, he is able to visualize an old memory – a picnic with both of his parents.
This was an enjoyable story, and while Parker only had three issues with which to weave his tale, he still managed to do so without seeming rushed for the most part. The classic reprints are nice, but personally I think I would like to have seen more of Grayson’s Earth-bound adventures fleshed out; that being said, Parker makes great use of the space he has, and I am left with a satisfied feeling by the end of the story. It was such a short ride, but it seems like maybe it was intentional, with some room left for further exploration of Marvel Boy’s past – perhaps in the new Atlas ongoing series, coming later this year! Bringing Jimmy Woo in toward the end of the issue to bring everything full circle with the 2006 Agents of Atlas series was nicely done as well. Ruiz’ and Staples’ visual work has matured over the course of these three issues, and served the story very well. If there are any other Atlas “prequels” in the future, I wouldn’t be disappointed to see this creative team remain intact and get the call.