newuniversal: 1959 #1

Story by
Art by
Greg Scott, Kody Chamberlain
Colors by
Val Staples
Letters by
Ed Dukeshire
Cover by
Marvel Comics

To go with the music industry parlance he would almost certainly appreciate, Kieron Gillen is making his major label debut with this comic, having been hand-picked for the role by none other than Warren Ellis to flesh out his revamp of the 1980s-spawned "New Universe." In this case, he's providing details about a previous iteration of the White Event which awakens superhumans in that world.

The story spotlights Phillip Voight, the director of Project Spitfire, and shows how he became the man that readers of "newuniversal" are familiar with. Fancying himself, in a rather unhinged way, as humanity's protector, Voight is happy to blackmail and murder his way to the top of Project Spitfire in order to accomplish his aim of eliminating the Starbrands however he can find them.

The throwaway ties to the regular Marvel Universe explored in the "newuniversal" parent series are brought into full focus here, as Gillen sets about introducing, rather unexpectedly, one Anthony "Tony" Stark -â€" a familiar figure who built himself an armored battle-suit to escape his captors. Unfortunately for Stark, he's not quite as important around these parts as he might've been, and his exit is as swift and shocking as his introduction was.

While it seems that no reader is that enthusiastic about the prospect of seeing "newuniversal" explore any huge ties with the regular Marvel Universe, one can't help but appreciate the nature of this particular cameo and the role it plays in distinguishing one universe from the other. There's a bit of a chronology flub with the idea of Iron Man coming into existence in the Viet Cong in 1959, but hey, it is an alternate universe. . .

Greg Scott's illustrations are appropriately dark and moody like any comic featuring cold, calculating murderous government agents should be. His best work, though, comes when depicting Veronica Kelly's nicely demented powers, which cause her to conjure all kinds of psychic blades.

If the book fails on any level, it's that much of the significance is going to be lost on anyone who isn't a fan of "newuniversal" already. The presentation of events in a non-chronological manner don't hide a fairly thin plot, and the book's main feature appears to be to flesh out the history of this world. Even so, it's never anything less than a decent read, and offers proof were any needed, that Gillen's much more than just "that Britpop writer."

PREVIEW: Batman #77

More in Comics