Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks (more or less), with each week devoted to a single writer. This quasi-week: Chris Claremont. Today’s page is from Marvel and DC Present Featuring the Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans (yes, that’s the official title), which was published by DC and Marvel and is cover dated 1982. Enjoy!
At the height of his power, Chris Claremont teamed up with Walt Simonson to give us one of the most beloved (and best) crossover events in comics history, the one where the most popular teams in both the DC and Marvel Universes fought Dark Phoenix and Darkseid, because why not? As Simonson would prove time and again, if you want giant space epics, he’s the guy you want, and if you want bombastic soap opera, you get Claremont. It’s the best of both worlds!
First, we see the name of the comic, which might have been the first time someone made the pun about the movie, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last. I’m not sure if Simonson designed the title or if the wonderful Tom Orzechowski did, but it’s vaguely like the font used on the movie poster, which is keen. (I’m going to say it’s Simonson’s design, mainly because it resembles many of his sound effects, but perhaps Orzechowski created the letters specifically to look like Simonson’s sound effects.)
Claremont doesn’t tell us that Darkseid is speaking, but he does let us know that he’s talking to Metron, and he lets us know that Metron is trying to “breach the wall” and that the creatures who tried were as powerful as he and Metron are, which, of course, means that whoever is talking is very powerful. The very fact that the beings are called “Promethean Giants” (there’s no indication that Darkseid is using the first word adjectivally – it’s part of their name) implies that they overreached themselves, as Prometheus did. Obviously, we don’t know what the wall is or who these powerful beings are, but Claremont does a good job introducing the story.
Simonson, as we’ve already seen, does amazing splash pages, and this is no exception. The Promethean Giant looms in the upper half of the page, leaning from left to right to move our eye that way. Everything on the page moves left to right, so that even though it’s a static page and Simonson doesn’t get to do panel-by-panel storytelling, he still guides us toward the dialogue and thence to the next page. Everything about the artwork and the placement of the word balloons focus us on Darkseid and Metron, so that even though they’re small, the entire page is about them. I hate to keep bringing up the coloring, but once you see it, you can’t unsee it – Glynis Wein offsets the bold yellow of the title with the blue of the floating Promethean Giant, and she frames the page with the yellow in the bottom left corner. The page is balanced very well both in the pencil work and the coloring. Simonson and Wein know what they’re doing. Duh.
This is a fairly intriguing first page, although I imagine readers wouldn’t care too much whether it gets you into the story or not, as the high concept – the crossover – is the draw here. It’s still nice to see that none of the creators phoned it in. It could have happened!
Next: No mutants? From Claremont? In the 1980s? What the crap? See if there are any clues to tomorrow’s entry in the archives!