Marvel Boy: The Uranian #1

Story by
Art by
Felix Ruiz, Bill Everett, Russ Heath
Colors by
Val Staples
Letters by
Felix Ruiz
Cover by
Marvel Comics

Jeff Parker dusted off the Agents of Atlas, and in doing so gave all of the characters therein backstories. While Parker himself revealed some of those stories and connections to the Marvel Universe through the various appearances of the Agents of Atlas, this marks his first effort to dial in and focus on one of the Agents before that group of characters ever joined together. Parker chooses to address the Uranian's (that is Bob Grayson's) arrival on Earth. This is a secret origin of epic proportions. Well, maybe the proportions aren't quite epic, and maybe the origin isn't very secret, but Parker makes this story fresh and engaging.

Coming to the United States during the Red Scare of the 1950s, the Uranian instantly finds himself under scrutiny as a Russian spy. His good deeds are checked by a xenophobic military intent on discovering the secrets of Grayson's technology without ever just trying the kindergarten approach - asking nicely.

Ruiz's art echoes that of Bill Sienkiewicz, and for this story it is a perfect match, giving the story a visual hiss and pop similar to a well-viewed reel-to-reel movie. This is a great effect for this comic, it gives the story a feeling of being older than it truly is. Parker's writing keeps the characters locked into the 1950s, but Ruiz's art sells it. The story finds the Uranian befriended by a Timely Comics creator named Dean. Dean's spunk and creativity are similar to that of a Timely creator Marvel fans the world over know and love. The relationship between the two barely spans four pages of this issue, but the connection is defined clearly - Dean is going to be a pillar of the Uranian's existence. This becomes evident once the Uranian assumes a crime-fighting moniker to end this first issue.

This issue is rounded out with some of the adventures that could have been generated by Marvel Boy's pal Dean. Or they could just be Golden Age reprints from 1950's "Marvel Boy" #1 with classic Russ Heath art that is evocative of old "Flash Gordon" comic strips. The second reprinted tale is from 1951's "Astonishing" #3. This second story is a testament to the ability of Bill Everett, as he managed to actually provide some great art in and around all of the text boxes and word balloons for this tale.

This isn't a "must-have" or "can't miss" book, but it is entertaining. Parker and Ruiz deliver a good story about a character very few fans know much about. Additionally, it's another avenue for "Agents of Atlas" fans to find their fix on.

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