Monday, September 30, 2013

Halloween Countdown Day 30 - By the Edge of the Water

Greetings boils and ghouls, how nice to see again. As October is nearly here I thought that I might just entertain you with a story for the witching hour. While the internet phenomena of creepy-pastas is nothing new this one in particular stuck out to me. In fact, you can say that this one washes the others away. Hehehe, so turn the lights down low, put your headphones on, and listen to a little tale called By the Edge of the Water.

Enjoy kiddies, and as always, until next time.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Halloween Countdown Day 31 - The Ghost of Stephen Foster

Greetings boils and ghouls, another quick one as we go through the month of September and sit on the brink of October.

The Squirrel Nut Zippers pay tribute to Cab Calloway’s cartoon version of Minnie the Moocher, while scaring up a few references to those early Fleischer Film’s cartoonists of days gone by. I’m quite fond of the Zippers, as they are a swing revivalist band with a bite (they tend to aptly describe themselves as 1930s punk).

The reference to Stephen Foster is a bit of a neat trick as well, he is considered the father of American music, having recorded such songs as ‘Oh Suzanna’ and ‘Camptown Races’.

So sit back, enjoy, and as always, until next time.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Halloween Countdown Day 32 - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Greetings boils and ghouls, I’ve got yet another Halloween countdown post for you all.

  Out of all the things that I loved most about this particular holiday when I was just a wee little wretch was the Disney channel specials that would air. Out of all of them though, I loved Vault Disney’s showings of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow the most. There was no true ‘happy’ ending for our characters, which were less than Disney perfect. Ichabod on one hand was a craven little glutton who was more interested in inheriting wealth rather than finding a meaningful relationship with Katrina. Brom Bones, on the other was a muscle-bound hooligan who was more concerned about someone showing him up.

  Of course though, how can I leave out the Headless Horseman? This guy had a huge effect on me when I was a kid. No one was as creepy as the Headless Horseman. Not only did Brom Bones get to marry Katrina, the film hinted darkly at Ichabod being gone forever. Of course, as there is some ambivalence as to whether the Headless Horseman is a supernatural entity or Brom Bones, the implications are quite, quite dark indeed for a Disney film.

  Ah well, I’ve included the animation down below! Please, do enjoy it. Try not to lose your head over it! Hehehehe.

  Until next time.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

"Goodbye Palefaces!", a look at Bob Haney's The Brave and the Bold

On my recent road trip to New Mexico and Colorado, I promised myself I would finally crack open my copy of DC's Showcase Presents: The Brave & The Bold. This 527-page black and white, phone book sized volume contains issues 59 through 87 of the series, all of which are stories featuring Batman teaming with another hero or team in the DC universe. The recent Batman: Brave & The Bold cartoon inspired this purchase years ago, but I never got around to actually reading this massive tome of Silver Age goodness. With the beautiful landscapes of West Texas, New Mexico, and the Rocky Mountains by my side, I indulged my inner ten-year-old and embraced the kookiness of late 60's DC comics. Almost every issue is written by Bob Haney and features art by legendary names like Carmine Infantino, Mike Sekowsky, Ramona Fradon, and of course Neal Adams. For the purposes of this review I'll be focusing on the writing of Bob Haney, whose carefree approach to superhero storytelling I've come to admire over the last few weeks.

Bob Haney was born in 1926 and grew up on a steady diet Prince Valiant comic strips and Shadow-era radio dramas. After serving in the Navy in WWII, earning a Master's Degree at Columbia University, and publishing a number of novels in a variety of genres under several pen names, Haney went to work in comics. He wrote crime and war titles for a number of publishers including Fawcett, Standard, and Harvey Comics. Following Fredric Wertham, Sedution of the Innocent, and the thinning of the comics publishing herd in the 50's, Haney eventually found work at DC. Working on war characters like Sgt. Rock and creating new characters like the villainous Eclipso, Haney became a staple for DC readers of the time. He even claimed to have been a co-creator of the Doom Patrol, but Arnold Drake and others have disputed this, recalling that Haney only advised them on the first few stories.

Haney's biggest achievment at DC would have to be the co-creation of the Teen Titans concept with artists Bruno Premiani and Nick Cardy. The Teen Titans are still published today, albeit with a different roster than the original, and Cartoon Network still airs the Teen Titans Go! series every Saturday morning. It was a delightfully simple idea to take the popular sidekick characters and team them up. What's interesting about the Silver Age incarnation of the Teen Titans is how in touch with the fashion trends and speech patterns of the youth of the day these characters were in their portrayal. While Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Don Heck were certainly ahead of the curve over at Marvel in terms of plot and pathos, some of the early Marvel issues depiction of young people hanging out were pretty laughable. I still get a kick out of Reed Richards blaming Johnny Storm's rebellious notions on all those "twist records" he's been listening to. Another feather in Haney's creative cap is the co-creation of one of my favorite freaks, the mutated Metamorpho, with artist and all around groovy chick Ramona Fradon. Metamorpho was a fun twist on the Ben Grimm type; he was a at least twice as ugly as the Thing, but instead enjoyed and flaunted his freakiness. Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred evoked the zany nature of these Silver Age tales in their Wednesday Comics Metamorpho strip a few years back, and who can forget the Element Woman (a spin-off of Metamorpho) issue of Gaiman's Sandman series? Anyhoo, let's move on to my personal favorite work from Mr. Haney, The Brave & The Bold starring Batman.

Haney didn't feel the need to pander to more continuity minded readers and older fans, for he always stated his stories were "for the 11-year old in Ohio". I support the sentiment, as comics should be for kids and no matter what Christopher Nolan or Zack Snyder have to say, Batman and Superman have more to say to an 11-year old than a thirty or forty something who's really just chasing the dragon when it comes to superhero books. Decompressed six to twelve part stories priced at three or four dollars a chapter are never going to peel kids away from Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty. Heck, if adults can't affor this habit anymore, what hope do kids have? Put value back in the single issue is all I'm sayin'. Apologies, rant over.

The stories in this volume follow a simple formula. Batman investigates a crime or mysterious occurance, clashes with another hero due to a smple misunderstanding, then works with the hero to stomp evil on the neck usually with an ironic or at least mildly humorous twist at the end. Haney's Batman is a more than capable crimefighter with no shortage of gagdets. My personal favorite is the Whirly-Bat, a one man helicopter chair. Haney's Batman is also quite fallable, and as prone to mistakes as any man. He's a far cry from the Grant Morrison Bat-God version we've come to know and love and even farther from the dark avenger of the O'Neil/Adams era. This Batman is more like Adam West with a larger budget. Haney finds time to plug his Teen Titans series near the beginning of each issue by reminding us that Robin is away on a Titans mission. Another funny tidbit is how Batman remarks each issue that "things have been quiet in Gotham lately". Without any real notation for the passage of time between each issue, and coupled with the fact that I was reading these back to back, it seems Batman has strange definition for "quiet". Similar to the Brave & The Bold cartoon series I mentioned above, Batman is rarely seen out of costume, and Batman often fights crime and attends social functions (like a wicked Chinese New Year Celebration) in full costume and in broad daylight. Batman's villains claim to be murderers and such, but their schemes are usually non-lethal, at least in their execution. The limitaions on what could be shown on-panel during this era of comics publishing meant villains and heroes alike had to be more creative in their machinations and the creators pulling their strings would have to invent more imaginative scenarios. The mining of the Silver Age for ideas and characters in the years leading up to the advent of the New 52, coupled with modern comics more violent sensibilities, led to some brutal sci-fi/horror scenarios in the work of big names like Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison.

Everything that makes a Bob Haney comic either great or not-so-great can be found in one prime example I'm going to share with you today. Some might point to Haney's socially-relevant work on Teen Titans or even the classic Batman/Deadman team-up with Neal Adam's art "Trail of the Hook", but I stumbled on an issue in this collection that is pure uncut Haney, at least in terms of plot and pacing. The Brave & The Bold issue #71 by Haney and artist George Papp features "The Wrath of the Thunderbird", a Batman/Green Arrow team-up where the urban vigilantes play the part of teachers to a Native American man looking to out-perform corrupt rival and win leadership of thier tribe.

Our story begins with Batman rescuing a truck driver who's been run off the road by one of Tom Tallwolf's "road pirates", aggresive truck drivers who keep the competition at bay through illicit means. Batman and police confront Tallwolf, but he uses his race and status as a businessman to deflect the accusations and even threatens to sue Batman! "Sure I play rough! Becasue it's a rough world! Not that you palefaces would know!" Tom Tallwolf is a delightful villain, even if he falls into the stereotype of the Angry Indian. Next, Batman encounters John Whitebird, another member of the same tribal descent who left his native land to seek a fortune in White Man's World. Whitebird reveals that the elder of their tribe has passed away and now he and Tallwolf must compete in a series of contests to deetermine who is fit to lead them. Normally, these trials would be held on their native ground, but Tallwolf is in league with a scummy promoter named The Promoter to hold the contest in Gotham City and lure the rest of the tribe by masquerading the event as a charity benefit. Of course, Tallwolf and The Promoter plot to rig the contest. This is a comic book after all...

Batman agrees to train John Whitebird to be all he can be. Horse riding, wrestling, and other activities are a natural to a bon vivan like Bruce Wayne and an adventurer like Batman, but one contest just happens to be up another hero's alley. When it comes to archery training, Batman enlists the emerald archer Green Arrow to aid Whitebird. This is the baby-faced Oliver Queen of the Silver Age, still sporting his Jack Kirby-esque costume and armaments. It wouldn't be for another few years that Neal Adams would give him the goatee and strip him of the gimmick arrows and Denny O'Neil would turn him into a stern Liberal activist. With Green Arrow's help, Whitebird is a whiz with a bow and arrow in just the span of few panels. As the contest draws near, The Promoter reveals to his fellow goons, as well as the reader, that his real intention for Tallwolf winning the contest is the secret power of the Thunderbird, a beast of myth that can only be summoned by the tribe's leader. This "tribe" is never named, so I will just assume it's A Tribe Called Quest and move on.

The contest begins, Whitebird is screwed out of his birthright and Tallwolf becomes leader of the tribe. By now, the issue has remained well within the realm of the plausible (insensitive and vague portrayals of Native Americans aside) and wouldn't be out of place on the Adam West Batman show. Just add a few more puns. Haney injects some Silver Age wackiness in the form of a giant Bird-beast in the third act just to spice things up as The Promoter cajoles Tallwolf into releasing the mythical Thunderbird. "Plausible" gets on the bus and leaves town as The Promoter foolishly thinks he can somehow control the Thunderbird through his influence over Tallwolf and it all ends with a big showdown on the reservation where Whitebird gets to redeem himself for losing the contest earlier and show off his archery skills when Green Arrow and Batman are both incapacitated. It should be noted that the way the Thunderbird plows through both heroes, it probably could've taken the whole damn Justice League just short of Superman or maybe J'onn J'onzz. The Thunderbird should be jockeying for a position with the Legion of Doom or the Secret Society or something.

This three act structure, with a bombastic third act full of Silver Age tropes and near-miss attempts at cultural awareness, is typical of most Silver Age DC books. What makes this such a Haney issue is the role of Batman and Green Arrow. In most of Haney's stories, the drama never centers around the actual heroes, but rather the normal citizens whose lives are entangled in their larger than life clashes. Batman and Green Arrow aren't only crimefighters, they're problem solvers. Nasty Tom Tallwolf being in charge of this tribe isn't really going to effect Gotham City in any way, but it's a moral wrong that Batman decides needs righting. Batman and Green Arrow aren't aloof and Haney never allows their costumes and abilities to set them apart. Even in other stories with super-powered characters, the heroes serve mankind but are also treated as civilians themselves. Haney's world is one where being a superhero or villain is no different than being a volunteer at a soup kitchen or a weekend biker. It's just something some people do, and it often causes a ruckus. This strange subculture of Haney's DC Universe borders on fetishism, but that's a topic for another time!

Even at the time of their publication, Haney's stories were a little left of center at DC. They often clashed with established continuity and Haney chose to ignore smaller changes that characters like Batman were undergoing in their own titles. The Brave & The Bold was a playground comic book, written with a devil may care appproach to modernism and logic. These stories were fast becoming a favorite for critics of DC, and DC loyalists would often refer to the non-canonical stories in Haney's Brave & The Bold as taking place on Earth-B. Those among you familiar with the Multiverse comcept at DC might get a kick out of the fact that over time "Earth-B" was officially recognized as an alternate Earth decades later in the Crisis Compendium. As the Multiverse folded in and "worlds died" as the COIE tagline goes, I like to think that Bob Haney's Earth-B survived somehow, defying logic in the cosmic sense the way his stories did in common sense.

Haney would go on to write comics less and less in the next decade, as his style and sensibilities were enventually phased out at DC. He found work in other mediums, like animation, where complex plots were still in their infancy and his flights of fancy were more than welcome to young Saturday morning viewers. Fans of Thundercats and Silverhawks might be able to spot his name in the credits of a few episodes. The Haney legacy can be found in what fans refer to now as Johnny DC, their current line of kids comics, usually based on whatever cartoons are currently airing or in development. Bob Haney didn't try to deconstruct superheroes or make allusions to Christianity or Greek Myth. He saw the superhero concept for what it was at the time, a fad. Maybe he was more at home writing war books or crime stories, but he certainly never seemed to run out of ideas for superheroes.

Of course, back in Haney's day they called them "long underwear characters"...what did I tell ya? Fetishism.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Halloween Countdown Day 34 - Dead Birds (2004)

“You have to follow certain rituals to be heard. Most think of them as spirits or ghosts, but they’ve always been here. They exist in a world around our own. They want to change this world.” - Clyde

Greetings again my fated, faithful followers. I've got a film that perhaps a few of you haven't heard of. A little movie by the name of Dead Birds. This is the only film directed by Alex Turner that I've seen, and when I've tried mentioning it to others, I usually get blank stares and raised brows.

Dead Birds is a very odd duck amongst horror films (hehe). Or more precisely, you don't get very many historical horror movies floating around. So, it gets points for uniqueness early on. While I usually stray from plot examples, in this case I wouldn't be spoiling much for you in fact, it has a plot that is reminiscent of a Vault of Horror or Tales from the Crypt style story. A bunch of Confederate Army deserters hold up a Confederate bank to get gold, kill some people along the way and hide in an abandoned farmhouse for the night. As these are some not very nice people in a horror flick, you'd be same in assume some very, very, bad stuff is about to happen to them.

A lot of stuff is going on in Dead Birds. You obviously have the deserters turned bank robbers (who don't trust each other very far to begin with) staying the night in an abandoned, creeky farmhouse. But then characters start seeing and experiencing odd phenomena. They chalk it up to certain members of their little group trying to psyche out the others, or nerves. Of course, we know that that isn't the case because it's a horror flick.


Speaking of nerves, Alex Turner knows how to turn on the tension. While this film takes a while to get cooking, when it gets started it goes! Atmosphere plays a big part of this film. Characters move in and out of grainy shots in oddly lit rooms, the doors and floorboards creak, the walls are stained with who knows what, and the only light are the flickering lanterns held by our unfortunate would-be robbers.

While the pacing can be a bit odd, and a line here or there can seem off or a little filled with cheese, it isn't an overall detraction from Dead Birds. Plus it has Michael Shannon in it. What else could you want?


Until next time.

"The scaffolding of spacetime farted and collapsed", a look at Marvel Boy by Grant Morrison and J.G.Jones

"Sole survivor...A real 'why me' situation, I should think." -Doctor Midas

On my recent vacation to Colorado, I was fortunate enough to check out Mile High Comics in Denver, a behemoth of a comic book store with just about anything an eager reader could want. I made the mistake of not having a proper shopping list prepared and wandered the shelves of trades and hardcover collections just trying to take it all in. It's not the prettiest store I've ever been in, but it's easily the biggest and I honestly felt a little overwhelmed. Then I spotted it; a golden bullet pressed between ruby red lips. Sitting between some Marvel Essentials and a Rocket Raccoon hardcover was Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones' Marvel Boy. Morrison is easily my favorite comic book writer of the modern era and snagging a copy was a no-brainer. Upon finishing this little gem that night, I flipped right back to the first page and started it all over again. Pretty soon it was three in the morning and I was on my third read through. This is a very special comic, and still quite ahead of its time over twelve years later. I plan to discuss this comic in great detail here, so let me go ahead and say, "SPOILER ALERT" and all that. Now let's jump in.

The saga of Marvel Comics in the 1990's isn't a boring one to say the least. Bad business deals, bankruptcy, creative stagnation, and harmful editorial fiefdoms plagued the House of Ideas. In 1998, the Heroes Reborn line, spearheaded by Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld, had turned out to be a flop and Marvel then desperately shuffled the "Reborn" heroes back into the regular Marvel Universe. While guys like Kurt Busiek, George Perez, and Mark Waid were able to do some quality work on titles like Avengers and Captain America, Marvel had ultimately just reverted to the status quo. They were making good comics, but they were also making the same comics. When Jimmy Palimiotti and future editor-in-chief Joe Quesada got the green light to start a premium line of comics called Marvel Knights featuring marquee names like director Kevin Smith, industry veteran Christopher Priest, and rising stars Garth Ennis and Paul Jenkins, fans didn't exactly hold their breath for something new and exciting. For once the Marvel hype machine wasn't just blowing smoke however, and the Marvel Knights line churned out some damn fine comics. Daredevil, Black Panther, The Inhumans, and The Punisher all made a splash and before long, a second wave was solicited. That brings us to Marvel Boy, a six issue miniseries that may be (with apologies to Warren Ellis and The Authority) the first real twenty-first century comic book.

First off, let's talk about the creative team. Grant Morrison is a writer that usually divides the readership of any title he works on. No one can deny he's a great idea man and Marvel Boy is nothing if not a collection of interesting ideas. No matter how tightly he plots a story or how straightforward his dialogue is, he will always be considered a "confusing" writer. Marvel Boy is an easy story to follow, and the themes of rebellious youth and boy meets girl are so transparent it could almost warrant harsh criticism if it weren't so damn charming. There are threads in this story left dangling that future writers could've ran with, but we'll come back to that disappointing afterword in a bit. Another thing about Morrison as a writer that has always fascinated me is how visually oriented his comics are. He isn't afraid to cut out the more needless captions and let the artist do the heavy lifting. That brings us to J.G. Jones, the pencilier of this miniseries. Jones is a utility player who can do it all: action, expression, layouts, etc. He's in the same class of artists as guys like Frank Quitely, who can break down Morrison's stories and give every important element equal attention, while never having to sacrifice character. Inker Sean Parsons is delicate with his line work as well. Lines are thick where they need to be, and details aren't muddied or lost. The careful inking gives the book a hi-def look, and I'd put it up against anything the "hot" artists are doing right now. Heck, I'd even say current Marvel hits like Hawkeye and Young Avengers are finally catching up to the Morrison/Jones/Parsons squad.

Marvel Boy is the story of Noh-Varr, the last survivor of a doomed alien starship. His crew and family are destroyed when their Kree exploration vessel has to make an emergency landing on Earth after traversing the omniverse and comes into conflict with Earthling interests. From the beginning, Noh-Varr is a passionate, angry teenage outcast on a world unlike and inferior to his own. His first experience with humanity is being shot out of the sky by them and the series follows his vendetta against the human race. We have all been judged by an angry powerful alien by the worst and most war-mongering of our kind. Way to go, us. With the aid of his living computer Plex (based visually on the Kree Supreme Intelligence from The Avengers), Noh-Varr wages a one man war with the human race, with New York City as the beachhead. In a very pre-9/11 display of destructive power, Noh-Varr wrecks huge chunks of the city and commits vandalism on a cosmic scale, burning the words "FUCK YOU" into a section of NYC. The Avengers are elsewhere, the F.F. are occupied, and only S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to be present to deal with this threat. And let us not forget, Noh-Varr is the hero in this story. His poor first impression of Earthlings and his aloof observations almost dare the reader not to agree with him and root for him. He lost his crewmates, his family, and his lover in one fell swoop and the havoc he wreaks is nothing more than a victim of a tragedy, flailing about against reason. Throughout the story, Noh-Varr experiences the various stages of grief on an epic scale, and while his actions and their destructive nature are ridiculous, his emotion is genuine. By the end of this comic, you might be more than a little frustrated with humanity too.

And now our villain: the multi-trillionaire scavenger scientist Doctor Midas. Midas is a wicked character design. A chain smoking Dr. Doom-type, clad in a golden version of Tony Stark's silver age Iron Man armor and a black leather trench coat. Unlike Dr. Doom however, Midas has no regal quality to him. He's just stupid rich and sociopathic, bathing himself in cosmic rays and wishing for powers like the Marvel heroes of the silver age. He's almost representative of a 90's fanboy, marveling at a heroes appearance or power set, but giving no thought to any complicated moral hang-ups. The first time we see Midas, he has the sole survivor of the starship crash Noh-Varr captured and plans to harvest his strange alien organs and steal the engine from his ship. Midas wants to use Noh-Varr's cosmic engine to shower himself in even more cosmic rays and become a true superbeing, which he feels characters like the Fantastic Four were just on the verge of changing into. One thing Midas does have in common with Dr. Doom is vanity. We learn through his interactions with his daughter that Midas finds not only his cosmic ray scars hideous, but even the human body itself is disgusting  to him. Midas is a 90's comic book villain who wants to transform into something as interesting as the silver age characters were in their time. His methods of fighting and trying to recapture Noh-Varr, such as disguising a public assassination as a movie shoot in the middle of the city (he even pays off the witnesses and tells them they were 'extras'), are pretty clever though. Midas definitely gets his in the end when Morrison turns his King Midas-inspired catchphrase on its ear in one of the books only moments of true comedy.

If the entirety of this series was just angry Noh-Varr clashing with sinister Doctor Midas and the dregs of humanity, it would be little more than a weak attempt at "widescreen" comics in the same vein as The Authority. It's with the introduction of Oubliette, Midas's daughter, that the story takes on a new dimension and direction. Oubliette is a teenage outcast like Noh-Varr who has been raised by her insane father to be a homicidal henchwoman in a leather fetish suit. She hates her dad, she hates herself, and blah blah blah. She is first sent by her father to capture or kill Noh-Varr, but ends up saving him, partly out of pity and partly out of wanting to piss off her daddy. Her back and forths with her father are not unlike any teenage girl going twelve rounds with an overprotective dad, but with vocabulary that could only find root in a comic book. Once again, Morrison plays out a very basic story of boy meets world and boy meets girl on such an epic scale that it feels fresh. Noh-Varr already hates Midas for shooting down his ship, but now he can stick it to him by bragging about being with his daughter. Their relationship is never romantic however. While the characters tight clothing belies an S&M club and their sweat-drenched patter sounds like pillow talk, Noh-Varr and Oubliette really end up more like brother and sister. Their isolation also makes them kindred spirits. Obliette gets to learn a little about Noh-Varr's people, the Kree, and in the climax of the book, Noh-Varr reveals he still carries the remains of his Kree lover, "but it's hard to love a carbonized, irradiated, skeletal structure." In the radioactive light of the cosmic engine, Noh-Varr and Oubliette share a tender moment and compare their shitty situations. The mask her father forces her to wear supposedly hides a hideous facial scar, but when Noh-Varr coaxes her to remove it, there are none to be had. In this scene we see the effect (in a very comic booky kind of way) that an abusive parent can have on a child. It's almost touching and you start to like a character who only a few minutes ago was threatening innocent people on a subway with imminent death.

The three main moving parts of Marvel Boy are Noh-Varr, Midas, and Oubliette. As far as characters go, they lend themselves to much more analysis than I am even capable of, but the other main villain of the piece is just as interesting. Hexus the Living Corporation is more of a malevolent concept than a proper character, but it's through Hexus that Morrison gets to play with some ideas about commercialism that were very prevalent around the turn of the millennium and are still relevant today. A play on the old "Brand X" idea, Hexus is a living logo that expands itself across billboards and bus stop ads, possessing eager businessmen and entrepreneurs and turning their delusions of grandeur against them. Hexus hires employees and spreads its influence at a super accelerated rate, taking over most of Manhattan and the world market in issue three. The Hexus logo creeps along in the first two issues, and eagle-eyed readers can spot it in the backgrounds. Hexus was safely contained by Noh-Varr and his crew before the series began, but breaks free when their ship is shot down. Hexus is preparing a "product launch" called D2K1, similar in theme to the acronym-laden advertising of the late 90s. D2K1 is in fact a "digital concentration camp" where Hexus will realize its full potential and corner the market on everything. The voice of Hexus, the body jumping Mister Greepy, puts it best. "Hexus grows. Hexus replicates. Soon, Hexus will own everything. We will license the air you breathe and the thoughts we allow you to think." Noh-Varr is only able to defeat Hexus by means of corporate sabotage. Using Plex, he hacks into Hexus's systems and gives their secrets and data to rivals like Coca Cola and Sony. In turn, the other corporations devour Hexus like ants on a larger insect, and Noh-Varr has (reluctantly) saved the day. Hexus is the danger of a monopoly in the form of a space-based thought parasite.

The Following is an excerpt from an interview with Grant Morrison around the time of Marvel Boy's release. "We've only started to experiment but already MARVEL BOY looks like nothing else around. Some of the stuff J. G. is doing is like an update of the whole Steranko Pop Art approach to the comics page. Instead of Orson Welles, op art and spy movies, J.G.'s using digital editing effects, percussive rhythms, cutting the action closer and harder, illuminated by the frantic glow of the image-crazed hallucination of 21st century media culture and all that. Comics don't need to be like films. They don't need to look like storyboards. This is not to dis the many great comics which have used filmic narrative techniques but I wanted to go back and explore some of the possibilities of comics as music."
Comic books as music is something Grant Morrison has toyed with in a few projects since, including We3 and Final Crisis, to varying degrees of success. This narrative style has brought new energy to his 21st century work in some cases (We3) and turned off or confused readers in other cases (Final Crisis). I would say Grant and J.G. are only partly successful in their attempt here. The first couple of issues are laid out extremely well, but only in certain sequences of the latter half, do the quick cuts and rapid fire panels start to occur. Again, I think the first two issues are really more like the "widescreen" books that people like Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch had made popular during this time. There is a sequence when Noh-Varr is fighting Oubliette for the first time that does read like a dubstep song, if that makes any sense. In the action sequences like that one, artist J.G. Jones cuts out some of the rhythm and delivers bass drop after bass drop. Whereas Final Crisis felt like a symphony, Marvel Boy is like nu-metal, with quiet pseudo-depressing verses, and loud, banging choruses. Nevertheless, kudos to the creative team for trying something new and fun to read.

Marvel Boy ends on a sort of cliffhanger, but the first arc is pretty neatly wrapped up. Noh-Varr is a captive of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the end and viewed as a political prisoner by much of the public and a terrorist by others. Obliette, after lashing out and sending her father Doctor Midas to a sub-dimensional hell, is rallying for him on the outside, spreading the word about the superior Kree way of life. One of the last scenes in the series is Obliette destroying Disney World and making a televised threat against the powers that be for holding Noh-Varr. Basically, boy meets world, boy meets girl, and finally boy gets in trouble. Noh-Varr ends the book on a smart-ass remark, and claims that his prison will one day be the capitol city of a new Kree Empire. Our hero is dragged away ranting and raving like a scorned supervillain, or just an angry child if you prefer. The character has since been featured in Brian Bendis's Avengers run as The Protector, but the more interesting bits about his character were kind of lost. In more recent comics Kieron Gillen has used the character to great effect in the current volume of Young Avengers, so at least Noh-Varr has a home.

Marvel Boy isn't a complete success, but like I mentioned up above, it's a very special book and maybe even still a bit ahead of its time. Noh-Varr is a 21st century Peter Parker. He's a young loner who suffers great tragedy and must learn about power and responsibility. If Stan Lee and Steve Ditko were children of the 70's and were creating a new teenage hero in the 90's, I'd like to think it would look something like Marvel Boy.