Tags Matching: Mark Bagley

A tale of two Bagley pages…

Two original art pieces here from Mark Bagley, the Cal Ripken of mainstream comics. An artist who’s style is and always has been very smooth, clean, and detailed without needing too much in the way of superfluous line work. He’s evolved a little bit over the years, but he’s got a trademark style that is as much it’s own as Alan Davis, an artist who I would compare with Bagley in many ways. Let’s get started.

The cover art from Mighty Avengers #8. A venomized Wasp. Great clean shots of Ms. Marvel, Iron Man, and the Sentry. Would love to have this piece, but $3000 is heavy. That said, this is a cover piece, and everyone knows that covers will demand the most value and attention. Do I see this piece retaining value? No. But do I think this will be a piece that changes hands often regardless? No.

This piece, an interior page from Ultimate Spider-Man, is the opposite as far as price tag. Another page that has a nice smattering of characters (Spidey, Moon Knight, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Iron Fist) and while the “ultimate” version of Danny Rand leaves something to be desired, this is a really cool piece. Classic Bagley, and the price is right… no bids? Really?

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Top 100 Summer Comics #19

The son, the father.

Always an amazing dynamic. Easily the most cataclysmic family dynamic of the Marvel Universe.

And when Marvel Boy’s father got to be a bit too abusive… well, as my friend Jason Scheller would say… “Click, Click, BOOM.”

#19 – New Warriors 20

Maybe one of the most out of left field murders in Marvel history. But it led to a trial, and to be honest, this was the tipping off point – it’s not that I didn’t like New Warriors after this point, but it was just not the same. The book was start to spread out the characters, and the dangling plot lines were being tossed every which way. Note that this is off of 20 years of memory, but I still enjoyed. I am dying to dig into the attic at my mom’s house to pull out my New Warriors run and nerd out…

*That said, I only said it once in the first of these posts some 80 days ago, but the random summer comics are only Marvel. Why? Because when I was at the height of my comic book revelry, I was a strict Marvel zombie. That said, with age, I’ve grown to like all sorts of gross stuff, like salad dressing and sushi. So I’ve developed a certain love, respect, and downright enjoyment for many things DC… so in the fall I’ll be doing the sequel to this run, the “30 things DC does better than Marvel” postings. Hope you enjoy.
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Top 100 Summer Comics #33

Rarely are first issues a smooth ride. There’s generally a formula followed, and 22 pages is not many when you need to introduce characters, bring them together, somehow make it gel, and convince the reader to jump on for the next issue.

An interesting fact is how often the print run of issue #2 is dramatically smaller than that of the first issue – based on historic drop off as well as the fear that the series will just fall apart. This is true for everything from X-Men to Avengers to Superman to Justice League/s.

But for brand new super hero teams, damn. It almost never sticks. This one did, if even for a little while.

#33 – New Warriors #1

I have to wonder what kind of concept they had with this team… was it the old “something old (Nova), something new (Night Thrasher), something borrowed (hrmm.. Namorita, from her then regular appearances in Namor? It’s a stretch I know), and something blue (Marvel Boy? Speedball was always a downer too)? Maybe.

Whatever it was, it worked. And mostly because the writing was sharp, and the attempt to be a hip teen book wasn’t shoved in the readers face. That’s often the way to kill any interest in a book. As a young reader, I wanted to shove an ice pick through my skull anytime a comic book tried to be hip. Stop. The other factor was Mark Bagley absolutely killing it, his art was really refreshing at the time. He never pandered to the Liefeld / McFarlane / Lee camp, keeping his own style when it seemed everyone was moving in one direction. ┬áThe opening with a dejected Richard Rider standing on a ledge is still a keeper scene.

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100 Days of Summer… #98

Sometimes a fill-in issue wasn’t a throw away. Though the concept is rare in the here and now, the fill-in issue was an often used trick of the trade to give creative teams a break and regroup, even catch up on work.

You could never tell when they were going to come out. Back in the pre-Previews world of comic book reading, sometimes they would drop right smack in the middle of an ongoing storyline. At times disorienting, it was generally a total bummer because the content was rushed and could even discard the current character development arcs that were being developed.

BUT… this was an exception.

#98- Fantastic Four 351

A stand alone issue to give Walt Simonson a much needed rest, this issue not only features some pretty early Mark Bagley art, but a killer self contained story by Dan Panosian, who if I’m not wrong went on to write the Image book Prophet for a heartbeat before he went on to a career as a penciller and inker. Strange – because I never thought much of Prophet, but the writing in this single issue is perfect. It has all the elements a good Fantastic Four story should have – larger than life, cosmic, and yet still found the essence of the very human members of the FF. Though I haven’t picked this issue up in well over a decade, it still stays with me as a great story. Must read for any FF fan.

We Who Are About To Die.

Remember when you were a kid still young enough to play with toys, but also old enough to make sure that your super heroes and GI Joes died whenever you created an adventure for them?

Strikeforce: Morituri was basically the sci-fi comic book version of that. Only much cooler, and with actual thought behind it (unlike say, the time a certain little kid version of myself cut off a M.U.S.C.L.E.’s head with scissors because I arbitrarily decided he had been decapitated by that one M.U.S.C.L.E. with the pliers for hands… I was a weird kid).

S:M’s concept was that, in the future, Earth is at war with a vicious alien race called the Horde. In order to stand a chance, the Earth’s government starts using a super power producing treatment called the Morituri Process to create superhuman soldiers to fight the technologically advanced invaders. The only catch is, if you survive the process, you explode within a year.

I just want to repeat that.

You explode. Within a year.

Alien fighting superheroes who EXPLODE IN A YEAR. That’s seriously genius.

See those guys on the cover? They didn’t even live through the issue.

You’d think with such a high turn over rate, it would be hard for the book to avoid dwelling in morbidity, or to create any decent characterization. But S:M cleared both those hurdles with air to spare. That was one of the things that made it so great.

And it helped that, in addition to it’s co-creator and regular artist for the majority of it’s run being the awesome Brent Anderson (of Astro City fame), that it also featured early work from Whilce Portacio and Mark Bagley. That’s three all star artists right there.

Sadly, unlike the majority of it’s titular characters, S:M ended with a whimper rather than a bang. The Morituri Effect was cancelled out by an alien virus, and in a depressingly obvious deus ex machina, a DIFFERENT alien race showed up at the end of the series, wiped out the Horde, and vanished.

Obviously, this isn’t the ending Morituri fans were probably looking for, and there were still some loose ends to tie up, so a few months later Marvel put out a 5 issue bookshelf style mini series that took place 10 years after the end of the original series.

This wrapped things up a little more neatly, as the surviving Morituri dodge what appear to be a new generation of killer Morituri, and deal with what exactly had happened to the aliens that defeated the Horde.

Sadly, Strikeforce: Morituri has never been collected; most likely due to conflicts between Marvel and series co-creator and writer Peter B Gillis over ownership of the series, conflicts which scuttled a proposed tv series based on the comic back in 2003.

Fortunately, back issues are cheap and plentiful…

The New Warriors.

A decade before he was one half of one of the longest running creative teams in modern comics on Ultimate Spider Man, Mark Bagley was one half of a not quite as long running creative team on one of the greatest comics of the 90s:

The New Warriors.

For 25 issues, Bagley and writer Fabian Nicieza were the perfect combination of art and script. Nicieza’s writing made made even Speedball cool. And no one drew a better Namorita than Bagley (except for maybe that one time Joe Jusko drew her for a Marvel Masterpieces card*). The bikini/short hair combo… ’nuff said.

On the surface, the New Warriors were a teenage Marvel version of Batman and the Outsiders, with new guy Night Thrasher serving as Batman, if Batman had had a bulletproof, razor tipped, rocket powered skateboard (it may seem cheesy now, but it actually was pretty awesome). Recruiting second tier favorites like Nova (who for some reason took a step back from being the Man Called Nova to Kid Nova) and Firestar, Night Thrasher’s team was joined by Namorita and Speedball in the pages of The Mighty Thor, getting a fluke win over ex-Galactus herald Terrax.

From there the group went straight into their own series, which despite what recent incarnations of the title and the description of the team put forth in comics like Civil War, was AWESOME. Particularly of note were the 3 issue Hard Choices storyline, with Thrasher handling the (extraordinarily well done) requisite 90s Punisher guest spot and the rest of the team trying to get Speedball’s mom out of an exo-terrorist group, and the alternate reality storyline of Forever Yesterday, where old Nova foe the Sphinx’s wife creates a whole new reality where she and her husband rule the world. All sorts of Egyptian versions of normally Caucasian heroes pop up to enforce the status quo, as the lower caste mutant population rebels against the reverse racist rule of Mrs. Sphinx and the alternate world versions of the Warriors find themselves being drawn together to fix everything.

Other storylines of note included the return of Terrax, who this time hands the Warriors and villains turned allies Psionex their ass (we’re talking breaking bones and snapping necks) and pretty much creates a full blown apocalypse before the remaining Warriors get a clue and bring in the Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer, and the Nothing But The Truth storyline, in which Night Thrasher takes some serious steps away from being a Bat-copy courtesy of his Alfred analogue (an ancient Oriental woman named Tai) turns out to be a total crazy, super powered maniacal mastermind who has been manipulating him his whole life (that storyline’s sub plot was no less intense, with Marvel Boy going on trial for killing his abusive step father).

After Bagley left to take over art chores on the Amazing Spiderman (was the success of New Warriors a direct cause of a young, relatively inexperienced artist getting a shot at one of Marvel’s main books? You can bet your bippy), Nicieza kept going with new artist Darick Robertson. It was still good, with the Poison Memories storyline being a high point, but Bagley was really THE New Warriors artist for me.

By the time Nicieza left somewhere in the mid-50’s, the book was pretty much done. It trucked on until issue 75, but after that it’s greatness was forgotten, and subsequent attempts at a revival were either bad jokes about reality tv or an entirely different series all together. Things ended well for Nova, as he ended up getting a major power boost and once again stars in his own ongoing series, but he was a character who had been around since the 70s and thus had probably the biggest fanbase. And I’m not going to complain, since he was on my favorite cover from that first 25 issues:

So bad ass.

It seems like the higher ups at Marvel just had no respect for the rest of the original team; Namorita and Night Thrasher were blown up to kick off Civil War, Marvel Boy (who changed his name to Justice) and Firestar were Avengers for awhile but then were unceremoniously retired (Justice actually returned and was a major character in Avengers:Initiative, originally serving as an instructor, and then going AWOL to team up with Rage and other late period Warriors as an anti-Initiative resistance, so I guess someone out there still likes him). And we won’t talk about what Warren Ellis did to Speedball…

I’ll just stick with my New Warriors Classic trade paperback (volume 2 out this month!).

Better days. Better days.


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