Marvel Comics Review: Mystery Men #1 (of 5)
When Marvel announced the formation of their "Architects" to steer the company into the future, I was impressed with the virtual cornucopia of talent from all aspects of the Marvel U. These were the best of the best, creators at the pinnacle of their careers, but I always thought there was room for more, maybe someone on the cusp that deserved a seat at the table. As I sit here, with a copy of Mystery Men #1 held tightly in my hands, I realize the name was in front of me all along. David Liss, may not be playing with all the big name characters nor building skyscrapers off the foundations of Marvel history, that's because he is actually building those foundations within the pages of his smash hit - Mystery Men!
This blast of nostalgia, debuts great pulp characters that are woven into a tale of social unrest and political intrigue. Taking place in New York City circa 1932, we are introduced to the morally sound yet socially elite, Dennis Piper, a Depression era stylized Robin Hood. As The Operative, he does his best to wean excess from the excessive, while keeping the downtrodden from falling completely into the depths of despair. These criminal acts, though laced into the fabric of the moral high ground, have flown mostly under the radar of local law enforcement due to his father's ever growing pocket book and the fact there is another Mystery Man on the prowl - one who's mere color of skin sets him as a much deeper threat to the upper crust elitists living in high rise buildings in 1932. The Revenant, arises from a whirl of mist to inflict a pummeling of sweet justice upon the unjust acts of human nature. A man of color, dressed all in white, that will stop at nothing to save humanity.
David Liss tells an enthralling tale of noir style action and intrigue that takes a cue from classic pulp stories, but places them in the fabric of the Marvel U. It is completely engrossing, not just because of the characters, but from the overall depth of the tale. Period pieces tend to either be heavy handed in means of the character or that of the time frame itself, never truly finding that perfect middle ground to placate to both aspects. But Liss has struck gold in his intermingling of precise proportions from character development and the social and economic issues of the time that affect those characters. Plus, let's not forget about the good old fashioned fisticuffs and the grotesque, hook yielding murderer!
Patrick Zircher was the only choice to bring this pulp-era tale to life through his stunning visuals. He captures the soul of the era in every line, from smug policemen to giddy socialites, he entrances you; taking you deeper into a world that has both passed on and would seemingly never end in the minds of great American writers. His work is emotional, at times grotesque, but always exuding the overall feel of the tale, one that is only described as - perfect!
Liss and company have trumped all of their previous works with, but a single issue! We have never seen the early days of the Marvel Universe done with such unwavering emotion and tenacity. It is not only a read that fans of pulp-era stories will enjoy, it is a book that ALL comic fans will clamor over! Stunning visuals, visceral, deep characters and a tale that will leave you wishing you owned a fedora - that is what Liss gives us. And in turn, I give him a single word - CLASSIC!