GUEST REVIEW AND INTERVIEW-MYSTERY MEN FROM MARVEL COMICS!
Written by David Liss
Art by Patrick Zircher
Published by Marvel Comics
Now Marvel has taken a stab at New Pulp and I think they are on to something great. Mystery Men takes place in New York in the regular Marvel Universe in 1932. As far as I know, this is the earliest a series has been set in the MU. The heroes (thus far) are not super-powered. The villain, however, is another story. He exudes occult mystical powers.
Mystery Men follows a millionaire playboy with a Robin Hood complex. He puts on a mask and calls himself the Operative. The Operative is trying to unravel a criminal conspiracy among the New York elite that is led by a frightening occult powered character called the General. The Operative is trying to find a killer.
Also involved in the case is another masked hero, the Revenant. He looks a bit like Moonknight and acts like the Shadow. He seems to have gotten the corrupt NYPD on his case and after crossing paths with the Operative, he decides they should work together.
The Operative doesn’t want the help and the fact that the Revenant is black doesn’t make it any easier, but we know they’re getting together. Issue #2 introduces the Rockettrix (not her real name, but the best description) with ties to the murder.
David Liss has nicely tied together a trio of pulp characters that I want to see more of. The story is good so far and the characters are charming, crude, tough, fascinating, and believable. I like the book a lot so far. Hopefully sales will be good enough to have the title continue.
I haven’t mentioned the art yet. The art is GREAT. Patrick Zircher’s style feels right for the period, but is modern at the same time. The entire first issue is done with horizontal panels, giving it a very cinematic style. The art is clear and direct and reminds me a little bit of Steve Bryant (Athena Voltaire). That is a compliment, by the way.
The second issue continues with the horizontal panels, but does break them up a bit. The colors by Andy Troy are also excellent, clean and subdued, but with color motifs to help define locations.
The final page of each issue so far has been an essay. Issue One’s article is by the writer, David Liss, and he discusses the thrill of adding to the beginning of the Marvel canon. He relates how he decided that the social issues of the 1930s would not be glossed over—that racism, sexism, poverty, and worker’s rights would play a part in the narrative. They do, and I think he has used them in his story well.
In the second issue, artist Patrick Zircher discusses the design path of the character’s looks.
I really hope these essays continue.
Go out and buy this great bit of New Pulp, you won’t be disappointed.
Interview with David Liss
Have you read much original pulp of the era? If so, what titles or characters are you familiar with?
Are you aware of the “New Pulp” movement – contemporary authors writing new stories set in the classic pulp era?
So far it seems that the 3 main characters – The Operative, The Revenant, and Sarah Starr have no innate super-powers. The villains do. Will we be seeing super-powered heroes in Mystery Men?
How did you go from writing historical mystery novels to comics?
Are you a long time comics reader or are you new to the genre?
What titles or characters are your favorites?
What writers or artists excite you?
On the writing side, these days my favorite creators are probably Robert Kirkman, Mark Millar, Brian Bendis and Ed Brubaker. I feel like I’ve been very lucky, because in my projects at Marvel I’ve been paired with some of the best artists out there. Francesco Francavilla and Jefte Palo, who have been doing the art for Black Panther, are both fantastic. And then, of course, there’s Patrick Zircher’s phenomenal work on Mystery Men. In terms of detail and beauty, as well as art that advances character and story, Patrick’s work on this book is about as good as it gets.