Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review: Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes#5

The Marvel Adventures line of comic books are super hero stories intended to hold all-ages appeal and they're primarily marketed to younger readers. However, ever since writers such as Jeff Parker and Fred Van Lente began writing for them, Marvel Adventures has held a reputation for delivering fun super hero comics that no adult should feel ashamed for enjoying them.

Of late, Paul Tobin has been the writer for the Marvel Adventures titles, as is the case with Marvel Adventures Super Heroes#5, the most recent issue in the series. Although the series is something of an Avengers book, this particular issue spotlights Captain America.

Paul Tobin has a terrific ear for fun dialogue and his done-in-one-plots usually come up with an entertaining premise.

Joining Tobin on art is...Chris Cross?! Yes, Chris Cross, he of Blood Syndicate, Slingers, Captain Marvel and last seen (by me) on Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance! I'm genuinely surprised to see him on a Marvel Adventures title - not because I think he's slumming it, but rather I'm impressed that the editor could corral a talent as fine as he. The art on Marvel Adventures is occasionally lacking, suggesting at times that the artists are novices, new to publishing. Chris Cross is not new to the game and he brings his best to this story! Rick Ketcham inks seem particularly effective for him. It has all the energy I expect from Cross, but his facial expressions have only improved since I last took stock of them.

At any rate, in this issue Captain America is summoned to the town of Hydrale, whose population is 100% comprised of Hydra agents. This alone could be a promising idea for a story, but it's only a set-piece. Cap has answered a distress call from the super villain Rhino, who needs help rescuing a baby rhinoceros from Hydra.

Dubbed "Bartleby" (a shout-out to all the Bone fans) by the Rhino, he's come to feel a fatherly affection for the poor animal. Hydra hopes to use Bartleby in experiments to recreate the Rhino's superhuman powers, but Rhino can't bear to see the animal suffer. Naturally, his only hope is for a hero to save them.

This is a simple story with plenty of great lines and even a touch of pathos where Rhino's love for Bartleby is concerned. Rhino himself has long been an easy mark for comedy; as Cap observes in the story, "You're a grown man committing crimes while dressed like a rhinoceros. If you think it looks impressive or intimidating, you're way off." The Marvel Adventures titles still get high marks for me; I've repeatedly recommended them for younger readers who are interested in comic books, but I also recommend them to older readers who don't take their super heroes so seriously that they can't take a few good laughs.

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