Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Joe Madureira, and the issues are Marvel Comics Presents #89 and #92, which were published by Marvel and are cover dated November and December 1991. Enjoy!
According to everything I can find, the story Madureira drew in MCP #92 was drawn first, and the one in issue #89 came after. That makes sense, as the Mojo story in issue #89 is much better than the Northstar story in issue #92. Keep in mind that both of these stories were published when Joe Mad was 16 years old (he was born in December 1974), which, whatever you think of the man’s talent, is pretty impressive. I’m going to show the Northstar story first, though, even though it was published a month after the Mojo story!
I’ve seen comics by teenagers, and it’s interesting how much Madureira’s drawings look like stuff teenagers would draw. It certainly isn’t bad, but it’s very unrefined, which probably isn’t surprising. His figures are pretty stiff, which is unusual considering how fluid he would eventually become, and his facial expressions are broad and unsubtle. He looks like he’s copying the style of the big stars at the time – Lee, Liefeld, McFarlane – which is not surprising, of course. There’s too much hatching on Jean-Paul and Richelieu’s faces, but that was very trendy in 1991, so it was probably inevitable that we’d see it here. On this page, at least, Madureira doesn’t have to do much with the layout, but he does manage to frame Glissant – the dude smoking the cigar in the background – well, and the way he contrasts Glissant in the background with Jean-Paul – who used to hang out with Glissant when they were both Québécois terrorists – in the foreground is nice. Why are Jean-Paul’s ears pointed? Should I know that?
Glissant sets off a bomb for some reason (he claims he wants to destroy Jean-Paul’s “character,” but as this is an eight-page story, it’s unclear how he plans to do that), and Northstar jumps into action. Madureira is still drawing fairly stiff figures, but they’re posed well, as in the first panel, the woman twists when the bomb goes off, which looks reasonably realistic. Panel 2 is fine, but Panel 5 features more stiff figure work, although Madureira places them in the right spots (although somehow the woman got on the left, even though in Panel 2 she’s on the right). I do like that Madureira draws a panel showing Northstar blowing right out of his clothing so that his costume is spotlighted, even though I wonder if he would have just left the clothes on. Maduereira always seemed to have a pretty good sense of humor, and this is a nice touch.
Northstar creates a snow tornado that turns into flurries, and all is well! (Until Glissant shows up with a gun, but he’s easily dispatched.) This is better already – I wonder if the distance helps Madureira loosen up a little – although it’s obviously not that great. In Panel 1, the two characters still look a bit posed, but Northstar’s running isn’t bad. Madureira and inker Danny Bulanadi do a good job with the snownado – Madureira gives us nice, big, fluffy balls of snow, and either he or Bulanadi adds the speed lines, which always make something look more dynamic. Colorist Freddy Mendez adds good touches of blue and purple to the snownado, which helps the contrast a bit – if it were all white, I don’t know if it would look as chaotic. I like Northstar’s pose in Panel 4 for some reason – it looks like he stopped pretty quickly and also that he’s trying to direct the snownado. It just seems like a good pose for someone in that spot with that problem to solve.
As I noted, issue #89 came out about a month before issue #92, but it seems clear that Madureira drew it after the Northstar story. In fact, I have a hard time believing that it’s the same artist, as the Mojo story looks much more like the art that made Madureira famous than the art on the Northstar story. But let’s check it out! (Hey, for one Cool Point, can you guess who wrote this? I knew this person was around in 1991, but it still surprised me. Answer at the end of the post! No peeking!)
Mojo was designed by Arthur Adams, of course, and Madureira would probably list Adams as his biggest influence in American comics (obviously, manga art had a big influence on Madureira as well), which is why his Mojo is terrific. Mojo can’t be that hard to draw for anyone with talent – he’s a big blob – but usually, the best Mojo artists are the ones who can combine his absurdity with his evil, and Madureira does it very well. In Panel 3, he’s talking to a puppet, and Madureira draws him with that twisted mouth, which is the way he manages to show that Mojo is throwing his voice, and he gives us those wonderfully crazy eyes. In Panel 5, he stretches Mojo’s mouth to give him a Joker-like smile, while using blacks really well on the page and losing Mojo’s irises to make him crazier as he blasts the puppet. Finally, in Panel 6, Madureira narrows Mojo’s eyes under thick brow ridges, closes his mouth, and widens his smile, blending the insanity and evil quite well. He looks like the Grinch’s more menacing brother. Meanwhile, Madureira gets the craziness of Mojoworld well with the “Yes Men,” with their giant, weird grins and awkward movements. Madureira is better at motion in this story than in the previous one, but he still has some work to do, as we see. I’d really like to know if the writer (guess who?) or Madureira or even letterer Dave Sharpe put the “™” symbol by Mr. Biggles’s name, because that’s awesome. Mojo is all about consumerism, after all, so of course his doomed puppet would be trademarked!
Mojo’s ratings are plummeting, so he decides (well, it’s not his idea, although the previous example makes it seem like it is) to make a documentary about the X-Men. Unfortunately, this is what he gets. Madureira still needs to improve his figures, as only Beast looks really comfortable on this page, but it’s still better than the Northstar story. Chris Ivy inked this, and I wonder if the different inkers helped a bit – Ivy has a lighter touch, and there’s not as much hatching on these figures as there was above (and whether that’s on the inkers or Madureira is something I can’t answer). Madureira does a nice job posing the X-Men, and he draws a good Wolverine for what he’s doing – Madureira makes his hair very bushy, gives him a cigar (although it kind of looks like a cigarillo, even), gives him pretty big hands, and thick hair on his arms – none of which is unusual for Logan, but it seems like Madureira exaggerates everything just a bit to make the gag land better. He also does another good job with Mojo – he’s crestfallen in Panel 2, angry yet anticipatory in Panel 4, and sickened in Panel 5. I hope that it was Madureira’s idea to put a pith helmet on him (and the rest of the “documentary crew”), because it looks ridiculous (and awesome, because it’s ridiculous).
Madureira gets to draw a splash page of all the X-Men in the Danger Room, and it’s pretty good. The characters are still posed, because this is the only action in the book, really, so he doesn’t have to worry about panel-to-panel storytelling, and everyone looks a bit cramped, but that’s because Madureira is trying to get everyone into the panel. You can see hints of later Madureira faces – Colossus’s, for instance, is very much like what we’ll see going forward, and he and Ivy certainly don’t skimp on the details. And, as usual, you have to love the Nineties hair styles!
Madureira continues to do a nice job with Mojo here, as our crazy villain cries because of the beautiful footage he shot, gets frustrated because he ran out of film, had the camera pointed at him, so we see a bunch of different faces on the film, and then gleefully and angrily demands that they run the footage. Madureira again shows that he can do well with very exaggerated expressions, as Mojo continues to be the most interesting character visually in this story, and he cleverly puts the film running across the page to show all of the various expressions on Mojo’s face. I mentioned that he was aping Adams a bit with regard to Mojo, but notice how he draws Major Domo, Minor Domo (who I assume is Ricochet Rita), and Spiral: all of them have very long legs, which makes them look a bit out of proportion. That’s definitely an Adams trait. Oh, and I miss lettering like this. I love Mojo’s admonition in the final panel, and you don’t see a lot of lettering like that very much any more.
(By the way, Dan Slott wrote this story. How many people guessed that?)
Madureira was on his way, and he quickly rose through the Marvel ranks. I only want to show his art for four days, because the way the rest of the year works out, so I might have to cheat and show multiple issues over the next few days as he got more popular. We’ll see. But I encourage you to come back tomorrow to see what’s on the agenda! In the meantime, have a look at the archives!
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