Avengers Two: Wonder Man And Beast – Marvel Tales (2023)
Roger Stern (Story), Mark Bagley (Artist) and Nick Bradshaw (Cover Art),
My rating: 3.6 of 5 stars
This comic was one I picked up because the creators are good (I like Bagley’s art quite a bit) and the duo starring in this series are two characters that as a long-time comic reader, I feel have had big moments and been prominent yet somehow always been under-served and never gained a starring presence like a lot of their counterparts in the Marvel Universe. This niggling short-fall is in fact very much at the heart of this story as I read across the three chapters/issues contained within.
Being a re-print of a 3-issue mini from 2000, it’s a story in the traditional three-acts as Simon Williams a.k.a. Wonder Man has only recently been brought back from the dead by the Scarlet Witch and he is on a bit of a road trip to do some things he must and attempt to make some amends for mistakes from his past. Accompanying him is the bouncing blue Beast himself and this pairing of best friends is actually a great choice! The dynamic between them feels natural and human and the moments of more serious conversation and lighter banter all feel more real than you’d expect as Beast tries to help his friend through the existential dilemma he is facing.
Quite a few faces from Simons past pop up over the course of the story but I must admit that I knew fair few of them – but to the credit of the script, it all was explained simply and clearly so as to not mire the reader in exposition dumps but enough to give context and move the story along at a healthy pace.
Over the course of this adventure, our bromantic duo comes face to face with the machinations of Lady Lotus, It the Living Colossus and the Popular Front for Slorenian Sovereignty – so there’s lots going on and action aplenty!
Accompanying it all is a fantastic artist style and rendition of a bygone era in Marvel comics. The artwork, the colours, the layouts and paneling all remind me so vividly of comics from the 90’s (well before we got the “extreme” era that changed the medium for years) and some of the return-to-less-crazy-style that was comic art post 2000. The art is very much the house-style of Marvel at the time – things are crisp and dynamic and bright and it’s just fun going from page to page. And additionally, I was impressed by the art teams ability to transition nicely from the action-heavy pages to the more mellow ones PLUS it was really enjoyable that the action shots and sequences were framed in a way that felt believable for the moment and not either over-the-top or flowing awkwardly from just one cool panel to another. Like the story itself, the sequences flowed nicely for the most part.
For a good, quick read that feels like a nice old-school comic that doesn’t need you to have a grasp on years of build or continuity or anything and is just a clean buddy-action-adventure tale, you should check this comic out.
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