I just want to go out of my way to plug these two series from Marvel and DC. The reason why I want to hype them is the sales on both of these books is is low compared to other group books. Both of these titles should at least get a look from people and I hope people try something a little different. I think both of these books are a lot better then much of the standard super hero fare that is out there and are better then at least two other comics you are reading.
Based on the May 2009 Sales Charts, which are not 100% accurate, but a strong indicator and accurate for direct market numbers at least, the numbers were Agents of Atlas at 25,377 and REBELS at 13,468. I mean X-Force sold like 58,000 that month.
What concerns me is that Marvel has launched a two part X-Men / Agents of Atlas solicitation for October and supposedly it is to try and boost sales for this book. Realistically 25,000 should be a good enough number anymore, but maybe the sales are slipping and Marvel can see the writing on the wall. If this book dies it will be a tragedy. Not of epic proportions or anything, but still a big loss.
The premise is that we have Jimmy Woo reunited with his comrades from the 50’s. Jimmy Woo was de-aged and is now as young and vibrant as he was in the fifties. Due to a series of circumstances he is now the head of Atlas, a worldwide evil empire that was headed by the Yellow Claw. Jimmy is trying to make Atlas over into a force for good and is fighting both inside the organization and outside as Atlas is rightfully perceived as evil.
This book has it all from maintaining solid art, even with a rotating artistic crew, to having a great story. It is the story that is the best. We have so many great characters and Jeff Parker manages to give them all some screen time, add in new characters and advance the plot of the book and add depth to his cast. Each member of the cast has become my favorite at one time or another. Marvel Boy was a human raised on Uranus, but he has been altered to the point that he is no longer quite human. Bob’s inability to at times be human is hilarious, at times a little sad and often just a little off putting to other cast members. Namora is a female sub-mariner and was ostensibly Namor’s cousin. In fact she is not his biological cousin and recently almost married Namor. She is the group’s heavy hitter and is pretty much a blank slate as she was missing for almost 40 years. Venus is the goddess of love, who with her siren song enchants men. Gorilla Man is a man who is now a gorilla, M-11 is an old fashion science fiction robot and another heavy hitter for the group.
I could try and lay out detailed plot lines, but what counts is that this book works on every level. It has great dialogue between the members and they all speak with a different voice. The characters are all well defined and interesting. Since none of these group members have their own books what happens here is their continuity. Jeff Parker is weaving these characters into the greater Marvel Universe with such ease and still keeping this book true to itself. Finally you can just read Agents of Atlas and have a grand time; no other books need to be read to enjoy this series. Pick up an issue or two and check it out. This beats out ever Avenger book that I’m reading and is heads and tails above any X team book out there (yeah it is better then X-Factor). Go out and try it.
REBELS from DC is a book that also deserves you attention and truth be known you will have to pay attention. The central character is Viril Dox. Machiavellian wrote the book, Dox took it to heart and has a PHD in manipulation of friend and foe alike. The LEGION has been co-opted, Dox is stuck on his own, his future progeny (removed who knows how many times) gave him the plans for a 21st Century Legion of Super-Heroes. Viril Dox has changed it into his own plan and is fighting to regain control of his organization.
We are developing our own renegade and modern LOSH, but Dox is what makes this book shine. The best villains are the ones who think they are doing the right thing. Hitler, Doctor Doom, Lex Luthor, Ras As Ghul, the villain who does not see his villainy is the most dangerous. For me that is the central question with Dox, is he the good guy or is he the villain. His callousness towards his allies point to him almost being a villain, but he ultimately accomplishes a greater good. Dox is one of the best defined and most interesting characters in the DCU and Tony Bedard is using him to the best advantage.
Tony Bedard seems to have a solid long term plan on where he is taking this book and if the rest of you people don’t get on board I may never get to see the conclusion of that plan. If great stories and great characters and one of DC’s most intriguing characters are not enough, how about great art. Between Andy Clarke and St. Aubin, this book has been a thing of beauty month after month after month.
Go out and buy a copy and check this book out. A great read, a good looking book and it needs some additional support. Certainly better the JLA or Superman/Batman and many other books out of the DCU.
Drop two other books if your budgets are tight and get these two series. You will get more for your money then many other books on the stands. Both of these books provide good plots, great characterization, wonderful dialogue and terrific art. They have humor, action, adventure, beautiful women all with an unlimited budget for special effects. What more can a comic fan ask for?