Thursday, June 26, 2014

Alex Ross Paints Wolverine, Spider-Man and Miracleman for Marvel's 75th

Doug: Catching up today with four more covers from Alex Ross's campaign (wonder what he's getting paid for all these images?) of paintings celebrating Marvel Comics' 75th Anniversary. However, in addition to the usual criticisms of Ross's work, I'd like to hear from our readers who have an affinity for Alan Moore's Marvel Man (aka Miracleman). I have no history whatsoever with the character, so would love to be enlightened! Thanks in advance (and I'm thinking our readers from the UK will be helpful here...).


Anonymous said...

Sorry, but this reader from the UK will be of no help as I'd never even heard of Marvelman/Miracleman until quite recently. That Alex Ross art is as unappealing as ever - painted covers looked great on Conan and Planet of the Apes but it just doesn't look right for super-heroes.

William Preston said...

I have nothing positive to say about those (the sight lines on the characters in the X-Men poster are especially befuddling), so . . .

Who is the guy with the concentric circle costume--who is also a featured villain on the Ditko-era poster?

I guess he used the same model for Miracleman that he used for Shazam/Captain Marvel in Kingdom Come.

Humanbelly said...

Oh I dunno fellas-- I really do find Ross' work generally very appealing. He's certainly not beyond criticism-- but I feel like his mis-steps (a seeming recent tendency towards dutch angles and really unconventional POVs, f'rinstance) are more the result of an artist trying to stretch himself and improve and grow. I mean, he's pretty much nailed capturing the inherent humanity of his subjects--that's his particular genius. But a persistent criticism has ALWAYS been that his work-- even with figures in motion-- has had an underlying "static" feel to it (I criticism I don't always agree with, mind you). This manipulation of perspective, angles, and POV is a time-honored, cimematic way of trying to address that. An unfortunate result is that it sometimes yields works that can bear a resemblance to rather cheesy movie posters. (That X-Men painting should just plead guilty and get it over with.)

I'll forgive a lot, though, because- as I mentioned w/ Cockrum & Perez yesterday- the man clearly has a sincere respect and love for the material. Maybe it's his reliance on models-- I don't know-- but in interviews it's very obvious that thinks of them as "people" and not as simple imaginary characters that he's making up on the fly. He's Norman Rockwell working with superheroes.

Yeesh, and even as I wrote that it occurred to me: SURELY that comparison has been made before? Look at that last poster-- the Jameson, Tinkerer, Doc Ock, and Vulture faces in particular could have been Rockwell swipes (from Norman's, um, undiscovered "dark" period. . . ). . . !

Who the HECK is MiracleMan?? I actually think he's probably modeled after Ray Liotta-- Capt.Marvel was Fred MacMurray, wasn't he?


Murray said...

I know nothing about MiracleMarvelMan. Not a crumb. Not a sausage. And the few bits I've ever been exposed to leave me secure in the idea that I'm not missing anything.

I also need to know who Mr. Not-Bullseye is. In the first poster, I thought Spider-Man was fighting an evil, negative "Anti-Spidey". Closer look...oh. Concentric circles. And there he is again with the greatest of Spidey's rogues gallery. And I cannot identify him.

I guess I may have to start qualifying myself as a huge fan of "the early Alex Ross". His more recent stuff has to be screened on a case-by-case basis. For example, his covers for the latest incarnation of Astro City are quite acceptable, overall. These Marvel 75th posters are generally...not. Today's four examples in particular are nearly unpleasant to look at. I sure wouldn't have them on a my wall or computer desktop.

Comparing these with those Astro City covers, the covers are not as "clenched". A little more relaxed in execution. I'm wildly speculating that maybe Mr. Ross is thinking too much and has too much time for these posters. A bad case of "blank page syndrome"? In my own art experiences, it would be far more energizing to have the one job of "Samaritan, Confessor and Winged Victory are the stars of the story and it has to be done by the end of the month" versus "Well, I need to conjure an image that captures the entirety of Spider-Man's early career before next year..."

He could also be suffering a bit of "been there, done that". He's already done that wonderful group shot poster of all the first Marvel heroes in vintage costumes.

Edo Bosnar said...

Wow, can't believe nobody knows anything about Marvelman (Miracleman). Rather than go into a lengthy explanation, I'll just provide a link to the Wikipedia page, because I think it provides a pretty good summary.
I actually quite like the MM stories written by Alan Moore and then later Neil Gaiman back in the 1980s. They are often quite dark and disturbing, but man, they are so well written.

As for the Ross images: it's pretty well known around here that I'm not a fan, but I now find myself in the ironic position of sort of defending him. The Miracleman pic isn't bad, and the top Spidey image is pretty solid - although I have no idea who that villain is, either. At first glance, I thought it was the Looter/Meteor Man, but then I remembered that his costume doesn't have the concentric circles, nor does he have the kind of powers apparently on display in this picture.

Dr. Oyola said...

Of these I like the first Spider-Man and Miracle Man ones best, but Ross's work is not as appealing to me as it was in stuff like Marvels and Justice, or even Kingdom Come (though I am not a fan of that last one).

As for Miracle Man - one of my all-time favorite comics - back in the day I felt very lucky to get to read a friend's copy as all the legal issues surrounding the character made it seem like there was no chance they'd ever get back in print again.

I am not a fan of the new coloring, but I am waiting for new collected trades before being them (they are being re-printed as individual issues to make as much money as possible).

I think most BAB regulars would not like MM - but I think in the context of when it came out it felt fresh and was wonderfully written and inventive and challenged the Reagan/Thatcher Era with an attempt to show how the world would change if super-powered beings were real and the fascist underpinnings of even the most well-intentioned superhero.

I love it.

Anonymous said...

From what I've gleaned from the internet, the Spider-Man cover is from Amazing Spider-Man Vol 3 1.3, Learning To Crawl. Spider-Man's biggest fan becomes his first super villain Clash?

New comics......gotta love 'em!!!

The Prowler (gonna buy a '62 Cadillac, put a Fender amplifier in the back, drive straight through to the heart of America, turn it up to ten, baby, let that sucker blast).

david_b said...

Y'know, quite succinctly, Ross's Marvel work leaves me cold.

Preferring his DC renderings (on occasion) more.

Garett said...

I like the Wolverine painting, except for his overly shiny shoulders.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Edo, I'm a little surprised with the lack of Miracleman familiarity. If you were a Moore and/or indies fan back in the 80's, it was hard to miss the buzz on this title. Swamp Thing was revolutionary, Watchmen was a crowning popular accomplishment, but MM was a bit special, a title many Moore fans knew quite well. They are being reprinted in new collections, highly advised if you have ever enjoyed his work (or 80's indies in general).

I'm in the early Alex Ross club as well...these are still nice, but not quite the wow factor I used to feel.

Karen said...

I'm usually a big Ross fan, but these don't do a lot for me. I like the Spidey one with the unknown villain. He looks sort of like Chemistro but I know it's not him. Maybe Mirage? it's not the Shocker in a new suit?

I read Miracleman when it was published by Eclipse, although I missed a few issues here and there.It was pretty interesting stuff, totally deconstructing the superhero genre, but I drifted away from it after a while. It did make me realize just how horribly destructive Superman-level beings could be.

Murray said...

The comments above are the sort of MiracleMarvelMan tidbits I've been exposed to. Enthusiastic descriptions of "all superheroes are secretly fascists!" and "Moore at his most quirky and intense!"

I appreciate the excitement in the tone and the gleam of happiness in the eye, but y'all are still trying to sell 'hand-churned ice cream flavoured with the harshest pickling vinegar on the market AND sprinkled with dark, warm chunks of premium-grade asphalt!"

Thanks, but no thanks.

Humanbelly said...

"Clash", you say?
So. . . this would be another retro-fitted, never-seen-'im-before character that- ha!- was there the WHOLE TIME, and the MU camera happened to be switched off or elsewhere EVERY SINGLE TIME they popped up-?? Ala "Jewel" or The Sentry? We were just flukily distracted. . . like the way Captain Kangaroo never saw the Three Penny Piper, or how no grown-ups ever saw the Snuffleupugus for his first few years??

Nope-- still not makin' me want to start picking up Spiderman again. . .


Anonymous said...

Yeah Karen, I was thinking Shocker too, because of the way his power seems to be shattering the jars on the shelves; but if Prowler's right, maybe this is some new villain they're trying to shoehorn into existing continuity (and I hate it when they do that). That would explain why the unknown villain is included in that group shot, which seems to only consist of characters from Amazing Fantasy #15/Amazing Spidey #1-6 (including Betty with her ill-advised perm!)

Mike W.

Anonymous said...

You said it, HB, you said it

Mike W.

Dr. Oyola said...

So far I am quite liking "Learning to Crawl" (though I'd prefer it as its own mini-series and not the ridicu;ous 1.1 to 1.5 thing they are doing.

As for Clash, I think they are explaining him as someone Spidey met in past, but that has been out of the picture and forgotten.

Remember, at most PP has only been Spider-Man for 15 years according to the shifting "NOW" of continuity. I have no problem with the idea that there may be episodes we don't know about and are just coming to light now.

As for the "darkness" of Miracle Man, at the time it was a fresh and new thing and quite shocking in many ways - after two+ decades of "dark" being en vogue I can understand some people being turned off by it, but I still love it.

I don't mind a "dark" comic. I just don't want them ALL to be that way or for some characters that have no business being "dark" (like the new Dazzler look - have you seen that? It is like a parody of the idea!) ending up that way.

Sean Budde said...

Ross made Wolverine the proper height (5'3"). A 6'4" Wolverine isn't Wolverine, even though Marvel tries to push it off on the fans these days, along with numerous other changes to how their characters are supposed to look, talk and act. After 75 years, Marvel is only a shell of it's former self.

B Smith said...

There are many ways that you realise that you're getting on in the years - from "Oh, Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings...?" onwards.

Today I can add a new one "I've never heard of Miracleman till quite recently."

Humanbelly said...

I will say that, having looked MM up on Wikepedia, I sensed a faint tingle of recognition for some of the covers. The old Geppi's Comic World in Silver Spring, MD did a pretty good job getting a wide array of small/independent press books displayed right alongside the mainstream fair. I'm fairly sure Miracle Man was represented. Also that he was popping up in those remainder-box comic markets that sometimes appeared at the local VFW hall.

Boy, the Odyssey of True Ownership of the title & characters is a labyrinthine corporate drama all its own. .


Sean Budde said...

MiracleMan was an independent title. I don't see how that character has anything to do with Marvel comics?

Teresa said...

Miracleman was a great series. Often times it was very intense. The battle of London left its make on me.
Kid Miracleman is a character that twists your emotions like taffy.
The MM series/mythology is still without equal in comics. IMHO of course.
Out of all the people Ive loaned my MM series to, its always the non comic fans that really like it. The series tends to get under the skin of some comic book fans.


P.S. I am an Alex Ross fan. His work on "Justice" was brilliant. I loved seeing my childhood JLA, the Satellite Era through his lens.

Humanbelly said...

Sean, Marvel recently bought or obtained or . . . rented?. . . well, one way or another, secured the rights to the Miracleman franchise, and it looks like they're in the process of getting some product out there for consumption.


M. Moran said...

Miracleman, along with Nexus (and my sentimental favorite, the Badger) was probably my favorite non-mainstream series back in the 80's. I loved my Spidey and LOSH to pieces in the 70's that I bought off the rack at the newsstand, but hanging around real comic book shops in the 80's was quite the time when these series were fresh and the anti-hero/deconstruction thing hadn't been done to death yet.

Wow, I didn't realize MM wasn't as well known these days, I'm starting to feel old!

Sean Budde said...

Thanks HB. My MM comics are stored away...i don't think i ever read them. I just bought them 'cause they were "hot". I was a "hot" comics buyer back then. In retrospect, i should've bought more of what i liked.

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