Year of the Artist, Day 332: Joe Madureira, Part 4 - <i>Inhuman</i> #1

Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today's artist is Joe Madureira, and the issue is Inhuman #1, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated June 2014. These scans are from Amazing Spider-Man #1, which was also cover dated June 2014 and contained a reprint of Inhuman #1 for some reason. Enjoy!

When Madureira returned to Marvel with Ultimates 3 in late 2007, I had moved on from his art, and the fact that he was drawing comics I didn't want to buy made it easy to skip his work. I actually read Ultimates 3 #1 - it came out when I was writing for Atomic Comics, and as an "employee" of the company, I could check books out, like a library, and that was one of them - but nothing he's done since coming back to comics has been something I wanted to read. I only got Amazing Spider-Man this a few months ago because I was curious about it, and it happened to have a reprint of Inhuman #1 in the back. So that was handy. Let's see what's what with Madureira in this brave new millennium!

Obviously, Madureira found a style he liked and ran with it, as his facial work here isn't noticeably different from what it was in 1999 or even in 1994. He's still as detailed as ever, which is probably why he still doesn't have a big volume of work under his belt, but the transformation in Panel 3 is rather nice and gross because he's so detailed. What is different is his use of some sketchier lines - he seems a bit more willing to use lighter lines to vary the tone and the substance of the drawings. I doubt if 1994 Madureira would have uses that slashing, sketchy style in Panel 2, which shows the mists enveloping the dude. Madureira is inking himself, but some of this looks like it's colored directly from pencils, which would be an interesting shift. Marte Gracia is the colorist, and he does some nice work with the shading, but we'll see more cool coloring work below, so I won't go into it too much here!

Man, that's a lot of blue. Here's the weird thing: that dude, Lash, isn't even blue. On the page before, he was colored with the skin of a slightly tan Caucasian dude, albeit one with terrible, terrible hair. I know it's night time, but man, why is he so blue? It's a bit bizarre even if you take into account the time of day. Gracia does add some random orange to his frame in Panel 1, which makes no sense because the moon is shining with white-yellow light, and the oranges put us in mind of a setting sun, which isn't around at this time. It's an okay drawing of Lash - he has big hands, which isn't surprising, and lots o' muscles, which also isn't surprising, but Madureira does give us an interesting perspective in Panel 1 to make his act of climbing a cliff and sitting down a bit more exciting. Still, that blue. Sheesh.

Madureira isn't the greatest at regular human interaction, because he's become a big-time action guy and these quiet moments are not his strength, but he does an okay job with Dante and Gabriela's conversation here. Dante is smiling creepily in Panel 2, but Madureira does a good job with Gabriela's sadness and regret as she thinks about the tragedies in her life. He draws a good expression on Dante when he hears the scream from upstairs, too. Madureira, as I noted above, has become a bit scratchier, which we can see in that final panel, where Dante looks a bit like a Marc Silvestri drawing. Perhaps as digital coloring has become more and more refined, Madureira is letting Gracia do some of the heavy lifting - the rendering on the clothing adds a lot of folds to the material, while some of the shading on the faces takes the place of harder lines. Madureira has been comfortable with this kind of coloring, as we've seen over the past few days, and he seems to be working pretty well with Gracia, not emphasizing the lines too much and blending them well with the rendered coloring. It's not a look I love, but it certainly doesn't look as bad as a lot of the new kind of coloring over line work.

Lash is apparently killing newly hatched Inhumans, and we get this terrific page when the bundle he carried up the cliff breaks open and he stone cold kills the dude who sticks his head out. Damn, Lash. Madureira, as we'll see with Medusa's hair, is having a lot of fun with swirly stuff, as the smoke from the destroyed Inhuman/egg sac floats off to the left in Panel 3, and Madureira makes it almost solid yet still fluid. Notice that Lash also has those giant neck muscles and bulky shoulders that we've seen in Madureira's work for years. Panel 1, though, is the cool one, and probably the coolest panel in the book (well, with the possible exception of the one where Medusa shows off dat ass). This is where I wonder if Gracia colors it from the pencils, because the line work is so loose and scratchy that it just doesn't look tightened by inks at all. Madureira uses blacks really well to show the disintegration and the burst of light, and Gracia follows this up with the nice white light slowly dissipating into dark blue. It's a very neat panel, and it shows that Madureira is still learning new tricks, which is neat.

Dante becomes an Inhuman and fights Lash, and we get this nifty page. Madureira is still quite good when he needs to draw bodies in motion, so Dante doesn't look stiff as he attacks Lash, who leaps out of the way. The way he poses them is a bit weird, as it seems like Lash jumps backward away from Dante's swipe, but there's nothing wrong with the way they "move," because Madureira knows what he's doing in that regard. Notice how big Dante's hands are - this is still a Madureira staple, and that's the way it is. Once again we get softer lines and blocks of black that aren't quite as dark as usual, which makes me think this was somehow more lightly inked or not inked at all. It's a pretty cool look, either way. Gracia really has fun with the color wheel here, using analogous colors like red, blue, and purple to link the two figures while dropping in some complementary yellows to make Dante pop a bit more. The jagged red coming from Lash's dark face in Panel 2 is really keen. Notice that Gracia, like so many colorists doing Madureira's work in the past, gives Lash red eyes - is that something Madureira suggested, or is it such a cliché that Gracia can't escape it?!?

On the next page, Medusa shows up, and Lash decides that discretion is the better part of valor and disappears (everyone in the Marvel Universe can teleport, apparently). I noted earlier that the way Maduriera is drawing smoke is nifty, and here we see it with Medusa's hair - is swirls very nicely, but it also has an odd solidity that makes it seem lacquered, in some way. It's bizarre. Medusa looks like she has water balloons attached to her chest, but we've seen this kind of breast-drawing from Madureira before, and we have to deal with it. He remembers to give her a tiny waist and somewhat thick legs, because that's how he draws women, but it's not too terrible. Meanwhile, he uses a lot of blacks in Panel 3 (well, in Panel 2 too, but those are silhouettes) to highlight Medusa's blue eyes, and I love how he makes her look super-tough - no wonder Lash wants nothing to do with her! Once again, there's a lot of soft lines here, and I'm once again wondering about the process. Such is life. Gracia once again does nice work on the page, with the reds dominating until Lash disappears in the flash of blue. Gracia keeps things simple, but because the choices are nice and bold, they work well here.

Madureira isn't 40 yet (he turns 40 in five days), so I imagine he still has plenty of comics in him if he so chooses, and I imagine he's probably not done evolving, either. Some of his excesses are far too locked in the Nineties aesthetic and I wish he would ditch them, but I still like his art. It's just too bad he's drawing comics I have no interest in.

Okay, so there are 33 days left in the year, and then I can sleep! (I kid, I kid - I really do enjoy these posts, but they are time-consuming!). I have seven artists left to do - yes, the numbers don't add up, but one artist is only getting three days, so that's how I make it work - and all of them are what we would call "classic" artists, meaning they began their careers in the 1970s or earlier. I started the year with some all-time greats, and while I sprinkled some other "classic" artists in throughout the year, I want to go out with several of them. These are artists that commenters have been clamoring for all year, even though I can't fit all of them in. So no Heath, for instance (I just don't own enough of his work). No Colan (I don't own enough of his early work). No Severin (same deal). No Raymond (I own very little of his work). No Eisner (I have very little of his early work, and I'm not the biggest fan anyway). There are so many great artists, and I only have a year, people! But I hope you like the "classic" guys I spotlight over the next month. Tomorrow we'll get started with a dude who isn't the most prolific artist anymore, but is weirdly the artist most associated with three separate long-running series ... even though he barely drew one of them! Who could it be? Well, you won't find him in the archives, but that shouldn't stop you from checking them out!

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