Archive for October 10, 2009

AoA vs X Ramos

Title: X-Men vs. Agents of Atlas #1
Writer: Jeff Parker
Art: Carlo Pagulayan and Jason Paz
Backup Story Art: Chris Samnee
Publisher: Marvel
Price $3.99

The Gist: Somebody has kidnapped AoA member Venus. The AoA don’t know who has her or where to even begin looking. In order to locate Venus the AoA decide to steal borrow Cerebra from the X-Men since Scott Summers and company are not using it at that moment.

I have been very much looking forward to this book two reasons. One, because it was an Agents of Atlas comic and two, because Jeff Parker was getting at crack at writing the X-Men. I haven’t liked the X-Men books in a long while. Not even Matt Fraction’s take on them. I figured that if Jeff Parker can make me like the worst team in comics today, The New Avengers, he could surely write an X-Men comic that I would enjoy, right? The short answer is yes he can and yes he did.

Quick side note: One of the small annoyances I had with Fraction’s Utopia storyline was his constant use of caption boxes to the let the reader know who almost every single character in the book was. The captions would list the characters name, sometimes their mutant ability but always had a quippy, not very funny, comment to end the caption. The captions did do a good job of letting me know who was who but really did nothing to tell me what they were about and what exactly their powers were. Well, in this comic Parker also uses those same captions but to much greater effect. Here are a few examples:

Utopia: Formerly Asteroid M, orbital base of Magneto. Shot down, crashed in the ocean for years. Now risen to serve as island home for mutant populace.

Emma Frost: Powerful telepath. Now remaining in diamond form to contain a sliver of the Void.

Namor: King of Merpeople, mutant hybrid. Without equal in water.

While only using a few words to describe major locations and characters, Parker let’s readers know all of the important information as well as giving them a glimpse of some recent history. And ya, he does throw a couple of quippy comments into the captions but the are actually humorous. End of not so quick in retrospect side note.

Nobody writes superhero team books in the industry better than Jeff Parker. Absolutely nobody. The motivations as for why the AoA are stealing borrowing Cerebra are relayed to the reader through natural flowing dialogue between the characters and how the X-Men actually find out about what Atlas is up to is done with simple deductive reasoning. If you think that since Parker is the regular writer for AoA that he is going to make his team shine and always get the better of the X-Men you’re wrong. In their initial tussle the AoA may have bettered the X-Men briefly but the cliffhanger ending shows us that this isn’t the X-Men’s first time to the dance and when they hit back, they hit hard.

So, was it worth the $3.99 price tag? The answer again is yes. There is an new 8 page backup story which tells a silver age tale of the original X-Men’s first meeting with the Agents of Atlas. Parker does a great job of writing the dialogue as if it were taken directly from the 60’s. Lots of expository dialogue. Loved it.

If you have been holding out on reading the Agents of Atlas for whatever reason but have been wanting to, now is the perfect time. It also need to be said that this is the most enjoyable X-Men comic I’ve read in a quite some time.

One last thing: I would be remiss if I did not mention the great artwork in the main story by AoA semi-regular artist Calro Pagulayan. He was born to draw the Agents of Atlas and I hope he continues to do so for a very long time.