Clearly, this is a title that is not aimed at the “standard” Marvel superhero comic book reader. This issue features a handful of models, some of which are undoubtedly familiar to the aforementioned “standard” reader and some of the characters are slightly more obscure. The concept behind “Models, Inc.” starts off as a behind-the-scenes type of peek into the daily events of the fashion models of the Marvel Universe. Those models are: Toni Turner, Jill Jerold, Chili Storm, Patsy Walker, and Millicent Collins (aka Millie the Model).
Paul Tobin’s story covers the events of a single day in the lives of these models as they start the day off with a photo shoot and an attempted robbery then finish with a concert appearance. The book feels very “Betty & Veronica” to me, but Tobin tries to keep the Marvel Universe reader engaged by dropping in references to Marvel heroes as well as a cameo connecting a famous Marvel hero with one of the models. The book seems innocuous enough until the end, when a mystery pops up. Surely some of the names dropped will pop up in future issues, but Tobin seems determined to leave the spotlight on the models.
Villagrasa’s art is innocuous as well, presenting these characters in a style that can only be deemed “safe”. His models are all very distinct, which is great, considering these characters do not hide behind spandex or masks to establish their identities. The fashions on the figures seem to be overly emphasized, though, sometimes making the figures themselves seem like little more than mannequins in this story. I remain hopeful that the figures will loosen up a little as the story ramps up in the next issue.
Tobin does take some chances with this title, such as the choice to share details of Chili Storm’s dating resume and the presence of the paparazzi. These choices take the title away from being all ages friendly and make it a title that truly seems adrift, unsure of its stead in the world of comics.
This issue also features a story focusing on the dedication of the Janet Van Dyne Memorial Wing of the New York Fashion Museum. The event finds fashion maven Tim Gunn on hand to impart his opinions of the deceased heroine’s outfits. Set in the Marvel Universe quite a bit more prominently than the main story in this comic, this eight-page backup gives Gunn a chance to try on a power suit cut from a whole new cloth. While the backup story itself seems a bit of a throwaway, it gives Marvel another chance to draw “mainstream” attention to new comic racks.
This title seems like it has been a long time coming, but the end result is lackluster. While I appreciate Marvel’s effort to publish books that are different, I don’t find this story different enough to make it memorable.